From the Rev: Getting Ishizaki
It is a well known fact, that of the teams in Major League Soccer, (as a fan) I probably dislike the Los Angeles Galaxy most. I don’t know what it is – honestly. I like the owner (Phil Anschutz) as I worked for him when he owned the Colorado Rapids. Dan Gargan is a former Rapids player, and I always cheer on former players that have come through Colorado’s doors. Maybe it’s that LA seems to always win (they’re like the Yankees of Major League Baseball). Maybe it’s that the Galaxy once crushed the Rapids in a playoff series when I was working as Public Relations Assistant. Or, maybe it’s that they have an extravagant budget (bringing in players like David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Stephan Gerrard). I don’t know what it is, but I rarely root for the LA Galaxy. However, I like Stefan Ishizaki. Why? Do you ask…I am not sure, but I think that there is something within me that “gets” or understands Ishizaki. I don’t know him personally. We have perhaps passed in the back hallway at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but I have never been introduced or spoken to him, but for some reason there is a connection – I’ll explain.
Getting Ishizaki: A Fan Perspective
Again, remember that as a chaplain, I have to be really careful about when I put the “fan” hat on, but we do have our moments. When watching Ishizaki, I have always enjoyed watching his work ethic, his dangerous ability to serve a ball into the forwards, and his opportunistic goal scoring. Last year, Ishizaki took a role in coming off the bench – I am no coach, but LA seemed to do better with him on the field. He seemed to take the role in stride – a more seasoned veteran he never seemed to make it about himself (although I admit I never scoured the LA tabloids or Twitterers to confirm). I also believe Ishizaki is just plain fun to watch. I can’t claim to know a lot about football, but what I do know, he seems a good player to model one’s game after – technically and ethically.
Getting Ishizaki: A Dad Perspective
Yesterday, Ishizaki played his last game for the Galaxy the reason? Twin sons being born later this year and the need to play and be closer to family in his native Sweden. Now, that I get.
When my wife and I found out in 2010 that we were going to add twin girls to our family we didn’t know what we were getting into – a double blessing to be sure, but those first couple of years were a lot of work. It takes a lot (especially for mom) to manage multiples and it is sometimes especially helpful to have an extra set of hands (dad) to help with the work. At times, I am not sure how my own wife and I would have managed without our own family around us helping – whether it was helping to clean the house, or bringing a meal over, or simply coming and holding the babies and feeding a bottle just to give mom a chance to rest, I get why Ishizaki is making the move back home and I fully support him.
Getting Ishizaki: A Rev’s Perspective
Now, again, I don’t know Stefan personally. I don’t know if he is a person of faith and I doubt that my writing ever gets his attention or on his radar – but if I had a conversation with him, here’s what I would say.
Stefan, I cannot commend you enough for making this move. I can imagine that it is not easy to leave this team and your teammates where you’ve won the championship and where you have been working to get adjusted to life in the U.S. but you will never regret it.
Life in the professional sports world is hard for families and especially in our global game of football – the stress and strain of the travel and the season, there’s a lot of challenge for a family to flourish, let alone survive. Your move back to Sweden, I think will reap many benefits for your wife and your children and I pray that you see those rewards immediately.
Let me just share, as a dad of (identical) twin girls, a few of my favorite things about having twins. First, they are instant playmates and friends. There is a special bond that happens between multiples and they will (most likely) be inseparable as they go through life together. Second, there are two of them – if they are identical, especially, it will take extra work to acknowledge their uniqueness and their separate identities and personalities, but it will be a tremendous gift to see and know these two little blessings. Finally, you will have your hands full! My twins run five this year and they sometimes are hard to keep up with. They provide a lot of joy for me in that, and I imagine that it will be the same for you, too.
Stefan, let me leave you with a blessing for your wife and your twin sons to be born:
God bless to you the journey as you return back home. May your wife continue safely through her pregnancy and the delivery of your sons, May these “twins” be a special blessing for you as you hold them, teach them, and watch them grow. May their sameness bring joy to your heart and soul. May their uniqueness fill you with wonder and point you to God, above. May you be careful to avoid favoritism and honor all your children well. May you enjoy the bond of twins, though, as only a father of twins can tell. Amen.
Rev. Brad Kenney