When FCDallas.com first asked me to write a blog entry for the website about last year's Draft, I started to think about great inspirational stories. I was going to use words like, "validation" and, "success." I planned on talking about a sixth grade teacher that said I was wasting my time. I was going to tell you about hours of grueling hard work and hundreds of friends showing their support. It would have been gripping stuff. Really, you would have loved it. But then I realized that it didn't really do the story justice.
What does it feel like to hear your name called on Draft day? It feels amazing – really, really amazing. It is a rush unlike anything I've ever felt. It puts a smile on so many people's faces. I wish I could say it justified all the determination or culminates all of the hard work., but those emotions didn't come to mind. It was just pure excitement, pure bliss. It was the best kind of emotion possible, but it didn't come without its preceding ups and downs.
I went into the Draft process having no expectations. All year long blogs and websites post their mock drafts. Coaches give their opinions. Agents provide their predictions. Friends ask you questions. The honest truth is that no one knows what they are talking about. Nobody can tell you what any team is going to do on Draft day. It's each team's job to lie and give false information. Each team needs to get an advantage. They aren't going to tell somebody what they want to do with their picks.
I wish I could tell you the whole process was flowers and butterflies. It'd be great to say I soaked it all in and appreciated the moment. In reality, though, it was nerve-wracking. There is pressure coming from all angles.
Getting to the point where you can possibly reach a dream takes a village. It's not just the athlete's effort or the parents' support; it's the teachers and the friends and the neighbors and the coaches. It takes support from a lot of different people. When it comes to those last couple weeks before the draft, you can feel all of those eyes turning towards you. It's no longer about just you. It's about people around you putting some of their emotions in your hands. It's a feeling athletes crave. It is what helps us perform at our best, but it's not always easy. Having that responsibility can take a toll. One of the toughest parts of our job is trying to sleep at night after a loss, knowing you have let down so many fans and supporters.
The week before the Draft, I told my family we wouldn't talk about soccer. No discussing the mock drafts or asking if I had heard from any teams. I wanted to hang out with friends and enjoy the time with my family. The soccer chips could fall as they may. I was happy with my performance at the Combine. I had put in a lot of preparation and had given my best effort. If Draft day didn't work out as planned, it would be with no regrets.
I walked into the Draft more relaxed than I had been the previous few days. The atmosphere in the room helped turn the nerves into excitement. The supporters groups from the East Coast teams took turns singing their own songs and taking jabs at their neighbors. When I sat down to watch the selections take place, I was having a great time and ready to watch the show unfold.
I didn't expect to get selected before the 14th or 15th pick. I had few preferences or expectations. Enough people had told me where the mighty experts online said I would probably go. I wasn't going to hold my breath early on. Not until the 13th or 14th pick did I really start to pay attention. And as the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th picks passed, a little seed of resentment grew.
Nobody wants to admit when they get angry, but the bottom line is, athletes want to win. If someone doesn't think we are good enough, it makes us mad. I wasn't outwardly angry, nobody could have seen it on my face and I was still having a great time with my parents, but the nugget was planted in the back of my mind. We hear it all the time on ESPN when a player that gets traded really wants to stick it to his old team (see Kyle Orton). A Draft isn't much different.
As I sat waiting for the next pick with FC Dallas on the clock at No. 17, I saw my agent start to walk towards me. As he lifted his cell phone to point to it, I could feel the DROID vibration from my own pocket. Picking up my phone, I heard the words, “Bobby, this is FC Dallas. Congratulations.” From there, I'm not sure what they said. I think I might have hung up on them because Commissioner Garber was calling my name and I had to get up to the stage (sorry about that, Doug).
Ten seconds later I was wearing a red and white scarf and felt instantly committed. I had never seen an FC Dallas game live, I'd never trained with the team or met the coaches, and I'd only been to Texas for a few days in the last couple years, but I was committed to the team and city. Two minutes prior, I had no idea where I would end up, and now I was sure of where I wanted to be. If the team believed in me, I wanted to do everything I could for them.
There are a lot of details and events from the day and the lead-up I am leaving out. Most aren't very exciting. Twelve months and a whirlwind of emotions can do funny things to a memory. But those are the emotions and events I remember the most. If someone asks me about what I remember from the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, that's the story that I would tell them.
It was a heck of a ride. Every second of it was worth it, but now it's over and it’s just a memory. It is about working towards the next goal and victory. When I get to that goal - right now it’s an MLS Cup - I'll feel that pure bliss again.
Visit FCDallas.com all week and follow @FCDallas on Twitter for continued coverage of the 2012 SuperDraft.