I had the great pleasure of catching up with former University of Dayton standout Chris Rolfe. A native of Dayton, Chris grew up in Kettering attending Fairmont High Shool and played for the Flyers from 2001 - 2004. He went on to a successful career with Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire where we accumulated 123 appearances and 36 goals. Chris made his National Team debut in November of 2005 in Glasgow against Scotland and has gone on to make ten appearances for the US side. Chris is currently playing in the Danish Premier League with AaB Aalborg. His professional schedule keeps him quite busy these days, so here is an interview I did with Chris via e-mail.
Poistion: Midfield, Forward
Date of Birth: Jan 17, 1983
Place of Birth: Kettering, OH.
Weight: 145 lbs
Tell me about your soccer experience growing up in Dayton - when did you start, what clubs did you play for?
I started playing soccer at the Kettering YMCA when I was 7 and started playing for the Centerville Galaxies Soccer Club when I was 8. I played with them until after my freshman year when I began playing for FC Dayton. Our team, as a whole, then decided to switch to play under the club, Team Dayton.
When did you know you wanted to play in college and how did you prepare?
The idea of playing in college started in middle school after I saw my first college soccer game, but I started thinking about it seriously when I was a sophomore in high school.
I felt that I had been successful playing against kids my age since I was young, so my training and commitment had been tried and it had proved successful. So I just continued to work hard and believed that if I was meant to play in college, I would be led to make that decision.
What was it like playing soccer at UD? What advice do you have for young players regarding balancing academics and soccer?
UD was a great experience. The team's we played against weren't always the greatest, but we had a lot of fun within the team. My mom used to tell me to finish my schoolwork before I could play. I think that simple rule can be applied in most cases.
When did you know you wanted to play professionally?
As a child, my family would go to Dayton Dynamo NPSL games. After the first one I attended I wanted to be on the Dynamo. As I got older, I had the desire to play professionally outdoors, but had no idea how that would be made possible. Despite that, I kept playing and working at my game because it was something that I loved to do. After my freshman year of college, I had interest from the Chicago Fire's PDL
team. I turned down the offer to play with them that summer, but that was when I first began to think about playing professionally as a reality.
What is like to play for the US Mens National Team (USMNT)?
It's been an honor to play with the National Team over the last five years. A lot of people that I've spoken with about this topic approach it as a reward or an accomplishment, but I'd have to disagree. It's a challenge. It's difficult and it basically let me know that there's another level that I need to get to. The demands increase and the responsibilities are greater than anything I've experienced before it.
How did you get selected for the USMNT?
The first CAP I received was for a game in Glasgow against Scotland. My club team at that time was the Chicago Fire and we were in the quarter-finals of the MLS playoffs. A few days before we left for Boston to play the 2nd leg of that series, my coach, Dave Sarachan, called me into his office and told me that he'd just received a call from Bruce Arena. He told me to pack an extra bag when we traveled to Boston, because if we didn't move on in the MLS playoffs, I'd be going in with the national team to Glasgow. We ended up losing that series in penalties and I went to Glasgow the next day.
What are your thoughts on the Olympic Development Program? What advice do you have for young players aspiring to play at the national level?
I'm not too familiar with ODP, and I did not participate in it when I was younger.
You've played at a variety of levels. How does it compare playing for the National Team versus the Chicago Fire, versus BK Aalborg?
Styles are different everywhere and coaching philosophies greatly affect how your team plays no matter what level you're at. The one thing that seems to be necessary in all the leagues I've experienced is the willingness to work hard with a desire to win.
There are a number of clubs in the Dayton area. What are your thoughts on soccer in Dayton? What do we need to do to take it to the next level?
I've been disconnected from youth soccer in Dayton for a while now. I believe that kids need to be taught technique and tactics at an early age, but they also need to be able to express themselves in their play. What I mean is that the tactics are important in setting down basics and guidelines, but the players shouldn't necessarily be told exactly where to go, what to do, etc. because creativity is extremely important.
Who is the most memorable coach you ever played for and what was it that made the biggest impression on you as a player both on and off the field?
I've had a number of great coaches that all influenced me in their own way. My first coaches were Cy and Mary Horvath who dedicated so many hours to us as kids. They helped set the foundation for the player and person that I am today.