Feature (July 30, 2019) — This is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to write. I’m excited but also sad to share that I’m leaving Colorado, which means I’ll no longer be covering the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for Last Word on Soccer.
I suppose I could continue to do so via ESPN+ but that, to me at least, would feel a little fraudulent. A local beat-writer needs to first and foremost be local. That’s not a box I’ll be able to check any longer based in my new home city of Austin, Texas.
The irony of having watched the Austin Bold put a hurting on the Colorado Springs Switchbacks last month has not escaped me. It was almost like the Bold were saying, ‘See what you have to look forward to!’ But we all know how inaugural seasons can go, don’t we Switchbacks fans? Let’s see how Austin fare next year, or even in September when they travel to Weidner Field no longer an unknown quantity. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend that game as I’ll already be in Texas – but you know who I’ll be pulling for.
So much has happened over the past 5½ years following the Ragain’s exciting announcement that they were bringing professional soccer to Colorado Springs. In addition to all the time spent on the terraces or occasionally in Base Camp singing and celebrating with fellow fans and Trailheads, commentating on Open Cup games with Jason Smith, or nervously taking my first steps into podcasting with my Back Chat co-founder Paul Wray, I have so many cherished Switchbacks memories.
For instance, I will forever be able to tap into my feeling of giddiness when Josh Phillips, whilst out injured for several months, agreed to join me as a co-host on Back Chat the season we were a radio show! Another memory, one of my more surreal moments, sitting in the locker room with Kevaughn Frater and Sean McFarlane, laughing so hard and trying to keep up as they attempted to teach me Jamaican!
I’m thankful for the friendship that developed with Marty Maybin, largely established in-between his two stints with the Switchbacks. We made a point to stay in touch, during which time he was so open and honest with me about how hard it could be being a professional soccer player. Later, I believe I played a small part in the club bringing him back to Colorado Springs, something I was delighted to see happen.
Rony Argueta is another player for whom I have very fond memories. He always made a point to ask after my family and would visit with them whenever they accompanied me to games or events. He may be a warrior on the field, but a nicer man off it you won’t meet. Likewise, Jordan Schweitzer, who connected my daughter with his friend and Seattle Sounders star Jordan Morris because, like my daughter, Morris is Type 1 Diabetic. Ella’s face upon receiving a personal video message from the USMNT player is something I’ll never forget or can ever properly repay either Jordan for.
So many memories but I’m running out of copy, so a final one. The sincere kinship that has developed between ‘Mr. Switchbacks’ Luke Vercollone and I is something I continue to be grateful for. From day one he was my favorite Switchbacks player, so I remember being incredibly nervous when first meeting him. Embarrassingly, I asked for a selfie (the photo accompanying this article). After we took the photo, he said to me, ‘Hey, you’re one of those Back Chat guys, I’ve listened to your show. You guys are kind of like ‘Men in Blazers‘…love it!’. Cloud Nine stuff!
When I get to Austin, I will check out the Bold and the MLS team soon to follow. I may even buy their scarves, perhaps their jersey’s, too. I’m one of those fans who has to feel vested if I’m truly to engage with and enjoy the experience of watching live soccer. But my heart, at least a large part of it, will always be in Colorado Springs. It may no longer be my city, but it will always be my team.