"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen."
Today's interview is brought to you by the newest partner of the American Pyramid, MeritFit. MeritFit.co is a Kansas City based fitness and nutrition blog run by one of my good friends and certified Personal Trainer, Dustin Duewel. He played soccer for 12 years, inspiring his passion for fitness and nutrition. Check out his blog for all kinds of useful information to up your game and get ahead of the competition.
Good morning AP readers! This week is a special one and so is this interview. One year ago this week, AP launched as nothing more then a dream and a hope. I don't think the first interview had more then ten readers in a week. Now, eight hundred to a thousand people are reading interviews every week. I'd like to take a moment to say thank you for coming along this crazy ride with me over the last year, and I hope you'll stay on the ride for years to come.
Now, on to today's interview. FC Knights are based in Killeen, Texas, and a member of the Texas Premier Soccer League. This season will be their first in the league, and first in a non-Sunday League. Not only that, but this is FC Knights first interview anywhere. Check it out!
Tell me about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with FC Knights.
My name is Chris Glynn and I am from Killeen, Texas near the military base of Fort Hood, Texas. I am Assistant Coach and Team Captain of FC Knights. I also help in any other areas for the team since it is our first year as a semi-professional club.
What got you interested in soccer in general, and working with a team in particular?
Growing up in a city based around the military that constantly makes up the majority of your population, you get used to people moving around. However, I always asked, 'what about us locals?'
I have always loved soccer since I was young. My family is part English and Irish and we spend our summers in Europe among that culture. My biggest inspiration was when my mom bought me a Manchester United magazine and it featured a young player named David Beckham. Talk about an influence! Overall, my biggest interest was to pursue the world's pastime and to give back to my local community. Soccer Is Life! Our team believes we should have our own soccer team but it is always a struggle with American Football being king.
Football is especially King in Texas. How did FC Knights come into being, and what's the story behind the name?
FC Knights Killeen was formed in the summer of 2010 through a plain and casual Sunday Soccer League in Harker Heights and Killeen, Texas, where the idea of taking talented and athletic players to become more competitive was always the dream and ultimate goal. The Knights were founded out of this Sunday league by our President and Head Coach Lance Carlisle and myself.
For the next 5 years, we played Sunday Leagues but we were always seeking out a more competitive place to play. By summer 2015, a chance occurred for our President and Head Coach Lance Carlisle while in Temple, Texas, about 20-30 minutes away from Killeen. Carlisle had gone to tryout for the new TPSL team Temple United as a Goalkeeper. When the team did not pick Carlisle up as a player, the team offered him the position of Head Coach.
Throughout the season, Carlisle would go through the rocky road that is rookie season, even so much as to recruit fellow FC Knights to fill out the roster and long, long nights and phone calls to myself as I am also a local youth competitive travel coach and academy trainer. By the end of the TPSL season, the Temple United team had folded and the TPSL approved both Carlisle and myself for a team in the league. Of course, we decided to name the team FC Knights Killeen to continue our progress that has been ongoing for the last 6 years and to prove to our city that we need a professional soccer team for our city.
So it sounds like you saw a need for a team, and decided to fill that need, is that a good way to look at?
Most definitely. In our city, this sport has grown from just a secondary, actually 4th and 5th choice, to one of the top choices of sport to pursue. The growth came overnight really, just like this Pokemon Go! But the need we saw was not just to grow the sport but to give young adults and grown adults a place to compete at a higher level after high school and even after college, to showcase their talents. We also have veterans and active duty soldiers on team as well, men who serve our country but still want to play. We welcome everyone that wants this unique opportunity.
I take it the military presence around Killeen is pretty significant?
Very much so. Fort Hood is the largest military installation in the world. So you get a very diverse and unique group of people in addition to some great athletes. The hardest challenge is when it's time to be stationed or move to another military base if we lose those individuals. Our club has been fortunate as we pride ourselves in having many homegrown players as well as blending and incorporating retired and active soldiers into our team, our family, as we as Knights consider ourselves.
I interviewed the team at Minot AFB earlier in the year, and they were talking about the quality of athletes that the military has. I'm interested in your work with retired soldiers. How important has it been to some of those guys to have the team there, giving them a role and something to do?
It really makes a big different for those guys as well as the guys that are not military. For those retired and even medically discharged after intense service and combat it really gives them an opportunity to showcase their talent and bring their leadership skills to bear with our team while at the same time enjoying soccer as it was meant to be played without the stress and worry of military service any longer.
For civilians on our team, and guys like me who have family closely associated with the military, it makes for similar dynamics and understanding of their chosen profession while learning how to lead from them and how to bring a higher professionalism than most first year clubs are accustomed to. So far, everyone that has played us or interacted with us has been blown away by how organized and well presented we are. I believe that is a reflection on the cohesion and chemistry of these two major groups that makeup our team.
Is have that kind of leadership something you would really recommend to other first year teams to pursue? I know the teams I've played always suffered from a lack of one or two real leaders. Part of that is when you play with family, you don't really want to step on toes.
I would highly recommend it. Having a strong leadership core makes everything go smoother. But at the same time having a team like this that knows when to lead and also when to follow really is something special. I always remember this quote by Michael Jordan, "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." I believe our team lives up to this and more.
Good quote. How did you come to hear about the Texas Premier Soccer League? Really, walk me through the process of what it's like to join a league, start to finish.
It really was by a very fortunate and lucky chance encounter.
Our Head Coach, Lance Carlisle, had gone to tryout for the new upstart Temple United team in the TPSL last season. Now we had gone to multiple tryouts over the years while I was studying in college at Texas A&M University and while I was home from school. From Austin Aztex in the USL-PDL to you name it we tried them in Texas. But by some luck Lance had tried out for Temple as a player but walked out as their coach. Which then lead to the wheels moving about learning of the TPSL.
By the end of Fall last year, we had a feeling the team wasn't returning and so he called me up towards the end of my youth select season with my U15 Super 2 boys. He asked if I could help coach next season. I told him move the team and let me play and you've got deal. Thus our Knights team went from Sunday League to TPSL rookies. Overall the process to join has been really smooth in terms of how the steps have been laid out by Brendan Keyes, head of TPSL.
Our biggest challenges have been raising the money and funds to pay for uniforms, to pay for the league, etc. But we are slowly making it. We have work hard to for almost 6 years to get here and we slowly making this a reality. Thus far, we are in process of gathering some local sponsorship, GoFundMe's, local fundraisers, and really any creative ways to help get the necessary funds. Unlike most of our opponents, we don't have investors involved and in our city, businesses are particular on what they invest in before sponsoring. So our team is not shy about doing the hard work to get this to materialize.
Selling Memberships to allow fans to own part of the team is a great way to not only get the funds to make things happen, but also get fans to invest. That would be something really worth considering. When I was talking with Brendan Keyes, he mentioned the support the league offers new team. What kind of support did you receive from the league, and how has that helped with launching the team?
Nice! We will have to keep the idea in mind. Brendan has been very helpful and fully supportive of our team coming into the league. He checks up on us all the time and guides on how to go through the process and just simply to encourage us along. He even donated to our GoFundMe when we first started! But overall Brendan has been very supportive and has really helped us make this a reality in terms of joining a more elite and competitive league in TPSL. And from our TPSL counterpart teams, they have been very friendly and supportive as well. (I feel it might have something to do with being the New Kids On The Block!) But they have helped us and encouraged us along the way, too.
Never underestimate the power of being the new guy. What kind of reaction are you getting from people in Killeen as they hear about the team?
When we first started this roller coaster project, people looked at us as crazy and that the most competitive team we would ever have was Sunday League. There are actually people who still don't believe it. Now more and more are believing and some are very surprised. We actually talked about this at last night's Knights practice. Since our announcement a few months back to join the TPSL, our social media presence has more than doubled, our fan base has increased, more players have stopped by practice or messaged us just to see how the team is, and really more of the local community is wanting to help whether it is big or small. So Killeen is really starting to slowly get behind us and our local soccer community is becoming more and more surprised by how far we have come. There are still days where I can't believe it!
Hopefully they really get out there and support you once you take the field. Does FC Knights have any kind of a relationship with local youth clubs currently?
We do, both indirectly and directly. Indirectly, we are constantly trying to encourage and support the local youth clubs in any capacity we can. At the same time, directly, a few of us coach for the local clubs during the off-season in their recreational seasons. Myself personally, I also coach for one of the clubs called Tri-County SC as a competitive academy trainer, and I hold a USSF D License.
You're stretching yourself out quite a bit aren't you?
At times. But in the end it's all rewarding.
What do you think of the state of youth soccer right now? The pay to play controversy, the need for more qualified coaches, those kind of issues.
I think youth soccer here has turned into a money pit. They say that by adding this or forming another division it makes for more competition, but really it's just dollar signs at play. In terms of encouraging qualified coaches, I think you start to turn coaches away as well as players because it isn't just pay to play but at times feels like pay to coach in order to advance and be well educated to help players. Until someone really does huge overhaul reforms and brings everyone under one system across the country the state of soccer here is looking gloomy.
What do you think the best solution would be for fixing this?
I do not believe there is one specific or even handful of ways that best fix it. I think it will take a lot of reform in terms of how the divisions are structured and a lot of compromise to even think about coming together as one. But really the biggest thing: If it is really about the sport, then eliminate the money pits and invest heavily into better structured academies for all and most definitely grassroots.
Fair enough. It's really a very complex issue. What are you hoping to accomplish, as a team, in your first year in the TPSL?
To be competitive and show we are here to stay in the TPSL would be a successful first year. We are not after X amount of wins losses and ties but just being competitive in every match and respected by our opponent will be a successful season. I mean, look at Leicester City, 5000-1 odds to win the title and all Claudio Ranieri and his men wanted was respect and survival. I believe that is what we are after. And if we win the title BONUS!
We are really heading into the unknown and we want to show off what talented players to have. I'd be on the lookout for our attacking midfielder Lateef Alli and striker Darius Ford. Alli is young and could easily play professionally with his skill set. Ford is one of the easiest target players to find, and as a winger/right midfielder, you can't ask for anything better than him to send it up to. Also, Wesley Johnson, my left winger counterpart and Stephen Corlew, defensive midfielder, be on the lookout for them. too. Those 4 could really surprise the TPSL.
I'll have to keep an eye out on those guys once the season starts back up. Do you have any big lessons you've learned, both from success and failure, in getting this team off the ground?
Just the belief that anything is possible through hard work and perseverance. It's taken us 6 years to get to this point and it wasn't alone and without great support from friends, family, and teammates who really want to be associated with something bigger. Teamwork makes the dream work!
No man, or team, is an island. You ready for some more rapid fire questions to wrap this up? I want to be respectful of your time.
What is your favorite league and or team to watch?
Favorite League, definitely English Premier League. Favorite team, I'm always a Red Devil for life!!! Manchester United.
Favorite players, one past, one present.
One past: David Beckham. One present: Wayne Rooney
Surely you can do better with present. You have Zlatan now! And he's already won you a Community Shield. What are some books, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend to people?
I grew with the Class of '92 and passing oriented style! But no, Zlatan is a great addition already along with Bailly, Mikhantryan, and of course Pogba. I would definitely recommend Soccer IQ by Dan Blank. Great book, and he really breaks down the proper way of understanding your players and the game.
Would you rather go to a World Cup or the Euros?
Knowing the chances of going to a safe and fantastic World Cup are slim, I'd have to say Euros. The atmosphere is electric and the level of competition is so much better.
What would you like to say to the people reading this about why they should get out and support their local soccer teams, regardless of the level?
Support your local soccer team because it provides an opportunity to showcase talented players, bring unity to the community, and just to provide fun and enjoyment for all. The sport is growing here, so people should get behind their local teams no matter what level and help them build and allow them to spread the beautiful game to everyone.
Chris, thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, I'd encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. And if you'd like to read these interviews before everyone else, and make sure you aren't missing anything, click here and sign up for the newsletter. You'll be the first to know when articles are released and learn about other exciting content down the road. Make sure to spread the word by sharing these interviews, telling friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.