Whether it brings a family closer together, helps someone heal or creates a sense of community, Real Salt Lake means many things to many different people. "Difference Makers" will explore some of those meanings, with five RSL fans - one for each weekday during Real Week - sharing their stories about what role the club plays in their lives. Today’s installment comes from Jake Simons, a RSL season ticket holder since 2011 and a member of C10.
There are so many different ways to describe why RSL is important to me. Over the past few years especially, it has become what my friends and family call “an addiction” or “an obsession”. When they say things like that I generally wave it off and say something like “you just don’t understand.” It’s true though. They don’t. A few years ago I didn’t really get it either, nor did I ever think it would get to this point. But here I am.
In 2011 a few friends and I packed up the Rocky Mountain Cup and piled into an SUV on our way to Denver for the final game of that year’s Rocky Mountain Cup competition. Seven guys in a car late at night for nine hours; hilarity ensued. I had only known most of these guys for a couple months, and one of them I met as he was getting into my car, so I didn’t really know what to expect on a road trip like this. It turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. Spending a weekend in a city I’d never really been to, meeting up with other RSL fans, and then spending 90 minutes going berserk in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, all to watch our boys walk away with the Cup. It cemented every feeling I’d ever had about RSL.
Since that trip that group of friends and I have spent nearly every single game day together, and many, many nights together working on flags for our section and a podcast that we all now collaborate on. We’ve been on several away trips since then as well. Each one has been just as great. Seeing RSL come back against Portland at Jeld-Wen field with late goals from Jonny Steele and Kyle Beckerman was amazing. Our little section of RSL fans stuffed way back in the rafters of the stadium absolutely exploded. Going to L.A. last fall to watch Fabian Espindola work magic and help give RSL an important win towards the end of the season was equally exciting. That RSL group was even smaller than the group in Portland, yet just as proud and convinced of how important each and every chant was for the morale of our team.
When it comes right down to it I probably am obsessed. The reality is that I am completely okay with it. For me those trips and those moments are just a piece of it. It’s really about all the moments that I spend with the people that feel the same way about this team as I do. All my friends, all the supporters, and all the fans. It’s getting to know all these people over the past few years, and being able to spend Saturday afternoons in the tailgate lot, standing and singing with friends for 90 minutes as we urge our boys forward.
There’s something indescribable about the feeling that we all get as we watch a player make a run on to the end of a pass. Every second leading up to the shot is a moment fraught with anticipation and anxiety. Will it go in? It has to. A moment of sheer exhilaration as the ball slips past the keeper and into the net. The stadium erupts. It’s deafening. Jumping up and down everyone in my section is on the same page. We’re all there for the team. Everything we’ve been screaming for, chanting for, and cheering for has just happened. We’ve done it.