On June 10th and 11th, 20 CFJ teams from our City, South, and West clubs were joined on their final team calls by Chicago Fire First Team players Alex Monis and Allan Rodriguez. With the help of coaches Enzo Manaici (CFJ West), Jose Smith (CFJ South), and Igor Stjepic and Andy Stowe (CFJ City) Boys and Girls teams from our U8 -U15 age groups were surprised by visits from home grown players Monis and Rodriguez.
Monis and Rodriguez shared about their time as academy players, the biggest differences they’ve experienced at the professional level, fun stories with the team and advice they have for club players looking to continue to grow at their game. The coaches all agreed that hearing from the young professionals was most impactful as it helped the Juniors players be able to see themselves at that level some day soon. “Allan and Alex had a start similar to the players on the call,” shared Maniaci “Hopefully players will absorb some of these traits and habits into their own routines and start to make strides towards their goals!”
Rodriguez shared the importance of goal setting and mental skills on the call with CFJ West players, giving credit to the PASS program during his time with the Fire Academy. Monis reminded the young players to do what coach asks of them, try new positions and be willing to work hard. Stowe was thankful his players were able to hear this advice. “A player can hear from their coach day in and day out how important daily practice and diligence is,” Stowe shared, “but when the same direction is heard from an actual Professional it validates the coaches’ words.”
Smith shared that this unique experience is something his team enjoyed about being Fire Juniors players. “Experiences like these where we interact with player and the first team just makes the connection between the Chicago Fire Juniors and the Fire First team stronger,” shared Smith. Maniaci echoed the sentiment “Being able to interact with a 1st team player and former academy product helps them see that the clubs values are more than words tossed around during a zoom call, but are pillars to help guide individuals, teams, and the organization into a positive direction.”
The coaches, players and staff were grateful for Rodriguez and Monis taking time out of their training schedules to speak with our teams. The surprise calls were a great way to wrap up an unusual Spring season and will inspire the players to keep up with skills over the summer break. New favorite First Team players were born out of these calls, and we will all be rooting for Monis and Rodriguez at the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, FL later this month.