Finding My Happy Place

Football Isn’t Life, Just A Part of It

As I am starting to write this article, I am sitting in a coffee shop in Clinton, Mississippi without Air Conditioning. I’m sitting in this shop called Cups Espresso Café, and I have the biggest smile on my face. I have driven just over 3 hours from Tuscaloosa to Clinton, Mississippi, a town just outside of Jackson.

Cups: Espresso Café

Why? Why am I here? Why am I happy? Because I’m travelling to cover a USL League Two soccer match between the Mississippi Brilla and the Little Rock Rangers. It’s not for money, or even exposure. For the first time in a while with content creation, I’m doing it because I want to. I want to experience soccer in the South.

It has brought me to the 10th largest town in Mississippi and I’m daydreaming of living here, even though I am sweating through my clothes. Along the way, I have met the kindest strangers, the happiest smiles, and I’m not even at the soccer match. There are children in this café proudly sporting their Brilla shirts, their parents talking about the opening match, the baristas chatting about getting off work as the smells of blueberry coffee fills up every square inch of the building.

Olde Towne Distict in Clinton, Mississippi

Why Clinton?

Great question. It’s the same question I was asked by every single local. I decided to come down and film an episode of ‘Away Days’ for The USL Show at the Brilla home opener. I had heard so many great things about this away day from my friends who made the trip when the Birmingham Hammers (now Legion FC) made the trip to Clinton, Mississippi. I just had to see it for myself.

As I’m sipping on an iced honey and cinnamon latte, made with local honey, I’m daydreaming of a life here. Is it because of Clinton? Could be, but it is more about the simpler way of life, much like how I grew up. As I’m researching the players for Mississippi Brilla, Little Rock Rangers, the history of the clubs, the town, everything, I was forced to sit back and enjoy what I’m doing.

For much of the last year and a half as I’ve taken on this project that is Hammering Down, I have let soccer consume me. There is not a minute of my life that soccer, podcasting, article writing, social media, etc. has not occupied. Clinton forced me to sit down and think about why. I want to make this a career, but I have not been able to enjoy the beautiful life I have. I am here thinking about my future wife, Kathryn, my wonderful grandmother, my mother, my father, and especially missing my grandfather.

It has been almost a year since I lost the man who raised me, and I used my podcast, school, and sports to ignore that loss. Clinton reminds me of him. He taught me to love the people who are close to me, spread kindness, and appreciate every small moment. I have neglected to do all of those things and Clinton, Mississippi has brought me back to reality. Strange how life works, isn’t it? I made a project of passion turn into a way to avoid reality, and now I’m back.

What Does This Have to Do With Football?

I came here to cover a match, and I’ve found myself. I entered Mississippi with one goal in mind: cover a soccer match. That’s not what the people here are thinking about. I entered their town as a complete stranger to report on them, and I realized football is not their life. Brilla are simply a part of it. I had let Legion and FC Birmingham become my life. Brilla are a massive part of this community. There is a real buzz in the coffee shop about Brilla, but they are not letting the team consume them or dictate their happiness.

I came to cover a team, and I’m leaving a changed man. The football is secondary. The results don’t truly matter, the gas money can be made back, the time invested in this media project might not bare any real fruit, but that’s okay. All this time, all this money, it does not matter. These moments with friends, with family, with my beautiful Kathryn. That’s what matters.

I am leaving this article with one final message to you:

Appreciate every moment with your loved ones. Make time to love your surroundings. Love the football you consume. Do not let it consume you. Despite what Ted Lasso said:

Football is NOT Life. Simply just a part of it.

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