Yesterday I attended a Houston Dynamo practice for the first time and had a wonderful experience. It was like the first day of school for me, only the Dynamo practices started Monday so I was already playing catch up. The awkwardness, the nervousness, and the eventual comfort and pride of being amongst my media compadres all swept over me over the course of the 2+ hours that I was there.
I arrived at the Houston Sports Park early anticipating that I wouldn't know where to go, which proved to be true. I walked around aimlessly sipping on my earl grey (have I mentioned I'm a Picard fan?) and eventually noticed cars pulling up to the side of the field where players began to pour onto. I gazed out onto the field behind a chain link fence and saw my favorite players warming up with conditioning drills.
I knew since I was a member of the media that I could get closer, but I didn't want to interrupt something important and I certainly didn't want to yell across the field to ask permission to go inside. There are boundaries to what one can do and what one should do! I opted to play the waiting game while I soaked it all in. If I had to watch the whole thing from my car or behind a fence it would be worth it, but fortunately that wouldn't be the case.
After Dynamo announcer, reporter, and all around amazing Houston icon Glenn Davis walked by, I knew that I could find a way to get closer. I poked my head around a bit more and saw who I soon realized was Hal Kaiser of Orange in the Oven talking with someone briefly and then making his inside the "somewhat" closed off area where the Dynamo were practicing. The man who Hal was talking with was Matt Pederson, and after explaining to Matt who I was and who I wrote for (that would be this blog) I was in.
As I stepped onto the same blades of grass the Dynamo had just ran on that were still wet with morning dew on a delightfully warm but breezy January morning, I made my way over to a shaded area with the perfect view of everything happening. After brief introductions with media members like Darrell Lovell, Leo Ponce, Hal Kaiser, and others, I got my first real close up of the Dynamo while trying my damnedest to not act like a complete fan boy.
The atmosphere around the team was fantastic. The shouts of new head coach Owen Coyle with his very pronounced Scottish accent are still ringing in my ears along with the sounds of grunts, tackles, and players communicating with each other while practicing. While I still remain a huge supporter of former head coach Dominic Kinnear, change has happened and the players have adapted to that change remarkably well and the squad looks to have found new life after a disappointing finish last season.
There is a glow about the team as they are hard at work to fight for their positions, potential playing time, and for some of them, a spot with the team. March isn't that far away and I can tell you confidently after only attending a single practice (so far) that this is an exciting time to be a Houston Dynamo fan and we have a lot to look forward to.