One of the many perks of being a Columbus Crew fan is the access supporters and fans have with players. Not only do you have the opportunity to mix and mingle with your favorite players at special events, but before and after games you never know which player will take the time chat it up with fans.
The access is great and it gives you a chance to know some of the players. But how well do you really know them? The 1v.1 blog is created for fans to truly come to know America's Hardest Working Team. It reveals character, definitions of success and where the player see themselves in the future.
For the inaugural 1v1 blog Danny O'Rourke, a hometown boy, met with me at a local coffee shop. During the course of our interview I realized what a passionate, loyal person Danny is. He discusses what gives him strength and when asked what has been the most challenging aspect of his career, you may be surprised to find that O'Rourke is dealing with that obstacle right now. But first, we start from the beginning, what was it like growing up Danny O'Rouke
When did you know you wanted to be a professional soccer player?
Honestly, I've never really thought about it. This sounds so cliche but I've always wanted to be the best that I can be, everyday. I guess playing for the best club teams, the best college teams it just prepares you for that. I never thought where do I need to go to be a pro, I thought where do I go to be the best, I always want to win. That's always been my motto. For me it's no fun to play if you're not playing to win.
What has been a pivotal moment in your career?
Hopefully what I'm going though right now. The times that have been pivotal in my career have been the times when you're down the lowest. Whether it was back in 2008 when I went back to playing center back with Chad I gave up a bunch of PK's and it was really mentally draining on me. I questioned myself as a center back, as a player and then I was able to help the team win the championship.
If that wouldn't have happened and I didn't go though those pitfalls in the beginning then I wouldn't have been as beneficial to that run. Going through this injury now it gives me time to really look at what I've been really blessed with and work on things that need to be fined tuned off the field and on the field when I get back out there.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Just that satisfaction you get after every win. In any job it's that reward you get when you know you put in handwork for 6 days and that it paid off in the end. When I walk off the field and I'm too tired to wave up to your family in the stands. You go home and you're just drained. I think that feeling is unbelievable. I miss that the most.
Is that drained feeling something you strive for?
I can't remember when I've looked in the mirror after a game or even walked off the field and thought 'you know what, I didn't work hard enough to feel that way.' Obviously, the wins will come and go but that feeling is what I strive for every game.
What have been the most challenging part of your career?
Right now. I've never really had an injury like this before. I tried playing through it for a long time, it just got to a point where I was being detrimental to my future and my team. As much as it hurt physically, the mental part of not being able to perform up to your standards is very taxing.
What has helped you set those standards?
Growing up I dealt with a few injuries where doctors had said that I'd never play again. I broke a leg, it was broke for two and half years, the doctor said it would never heal. I had a back disease and it took awhile to find out what was wrong with it, I overcame that. There were times when people said he's not good enough, he won't make it, I love that. I look forward to when people say stuff like that. It motivates the hell out of me. I use it as extra motivation in the off season and in rehab right now.
Dealing with challenges and set backs what gives you strength?
Faith, first and for most. Faith that when things aren't going your way it's because they are not going your way for a reason. My family is really supportive and there is that inner drive, you can't really describe it. The little things you do off the field, or the little things you do in practice that drive you to be successful.
You mentioned those injuries as a kid and on top of what you're going through now, what doesn't let you quit?
I've never in any aspect of my life faced and obstacle and thought 'oh, well I guess I can't do that.' Its 'how am I going to figure this out.' I probably really annoy my trainers, when they are dealing with this rehab process. When it first happened I would be on the internet trying research everything and to come up with the best way to get better. I'm in their ear everyday, I'm sure it's annoying to them but it will pay off in the long run, they've been great.
What are a few things you would still like to accomplish?
First off, I would like to win another championship with the Crew. You can't put a price tag on playing with guys like Frankie and Guillermo, they were such great guy and great leaders. The guys that are on the team now are really inspired by that. We learned a lot from them and now its our turn. I would like to play for the National Team and that requires a lot of work too. It requires a of couple peoples opinions on how you play, it inspires me to keep getting better. Any time you can wear the colors of your nation it's great.
Finish this sentence for me: Danny O'Rourke is a great teammate because….
I'll do anything to help my teammates succeed. The best thing at the end of the season is playing alongside a guy like Chad who wins Defender of the Year, two years in a row. Just seeing the success of Chad, or Robbie going to national camp, or seeing Eddie when the MVP last year. Those accolades aren't just personal ones, your teammates are there to help you out. To see them accomplish that is definitely a blessing.
What is success in your mind?
I characterize it in two ways. On the field it's winning, I'm there to win. No one goes out there trying to lose. Off the field its about character. I think success is not about your reputation, it's about your character and how you go about things. In this day in age and in sports with the professional athletes it can be forgotten art, a lot of people take that for granted but its one of the most important things.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I don't see where I'm going to be in ten minutes. Thats the million dollar question.
We can shorten it to five years?
I still don't know. I love working with sports rehab and the human body. Whether it is sports performance or rehabilitation, something in the orthopedic range. I went to school to become a doctor but fortunately I've been lucky to play long enough that med school was put on hold. Also I love music, so anything in the music industry I'd love to be apart of. The possibilities are endless.
Follow Ashleigh on Twitter @AshleighIgnelzi