I was 15 years old when I joined the Vancouver Whitecaps.
As a young kid from Niagara Falls, Ontario, it was a bit overwhelming at first. OK, it was really overwhelming. I mean, Vancouver is a beautiful city, but it’s a really big city.
And I was just a kid.
You need to understand, I come from an Italian/German family so growing up I was used to having family around all the time. Going from that to living in a basement suite in Burnaby was very, very different.
I’m not going to lie: the first few months were hard. There were times I doubted myself. Times I wanted to go back home.
Now, here we are almost 10 years later, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
When I think about the Whitecaps, I think about more than just a soccer club in Vancouver. I think about a football organization that has become my family, a community that has taken me in as one of their own, and a city I now call home.
Since joining the club in 2008, the Whitecaps have given me every tool I’ve needed to succeed.
I’ve received unconditional love and support from Steve Meadley and his family, who welcomed me into their home with open arms and treated me as their own son, endless guidance from Bob Lenarduzzi, and ongoing mentorship from Rick Celebrini. I owe a lot to the Residency program – how it developed and shaped me into the man and professional I am today.
I want to thank everyone in the organization for the opportunity to continue wearing the Blue and White: the owners, front office, player management staff, and especially Carl Robinson for continuously believing in me.
This road, like the mountains and waves on our logo, has not been a straight line.
I’m learning from the ups and downs and unpredictable turns and I promise to never stop learning and working to give my best for our team. That’s something I’ve tried to do from day one.
I remember watching the first team play at Swangard Stadium, dreaming for my chance to play. I remember then getting that chance on opening day at Empire Field. Yes, I remember the flying ponchos, too. And, of course, how could I forget winning the Canadian Championship and finally lifting that trophy at BC Place.
These memories will be cherished forever, but I am hungry for so much more and you, the fans, deserve just that. I look forward to these next three years and what we will accomplish together. You motivate me to achieve greatness.
I have truly grown up with this club. On and off the field.
Working with BC Children’s Hospital, Covenant House and Hope & Health has shown me that life is not to be taken for granted. I’ve been blessed with a good one, and I’m honoured to share it with the individuals who realize the importance and value that giving back has on our community.
This beautiful city, the Coast Salish land we live on, has given me so much and I am forever grateful.
Every day I strive to be better. For the team, for this city, the fans, and myself. I am honoured that my story is still being written, and the city of Vancouver gets another chapter.
There is so much more to come.