Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rookies wave goodbye to Oka and Solle

Nobody said that a rookie’s life is ever easy.

Often times, a team’s incoming freshman are treated like bellhops and busboys, saddled with extra chores like lugging equipment around and carrying the goal to and fro during practice. In other words, they accept - involuntarily, of course -the work that no one else wants to do.

Yet, despite the tedious tasks, this year’s edition of Revolution rookies has formed a remarkably tight bond amongst themselves. In addition to collectively bearing the brunt of their added responsibilities, many of the rooks already shared a common thread before arriving in Foxboro, as many had played with or against each other since high school. Combine these factors and a wonderful sense of camaraderie becomes instilled, as full-fledged friendships become forged between the fresh faces.

So you can imagine that when the news of the club’s release of rookies Arsene Oka and Ryan Solle broke last Friday, there were more than a few raised eyebrows and shocked expressions.
“Ryan was kind of a prankster on the team, and at first you thought it might be a joke that he was playing on us. That’s what we were hoping: that it was just a joke,” said fellow rookie Chris Loftus.

Unfortunately, it was no playful ploy on the part of their fellow freshman, as the rookies had hoped, and soon Solle and Oka would be saying goodbye to their teammates and friends. As the news began sink in, the emotions then turned serious.

“Obviously everybody was shocked to hear (about them being released),” said Kyle Helton, a rookie right back, who’s known Solle since high school. “I wasn’t expecting that at all, and I don’t think any of the other guys were as well.”

Loftus agreed with his fellow rookie on his emotions when the news finally began to sink in.

“(It was) immediate shock, when I heard about it. Ryan is a very close friend of mine, and was close with all of the rookies, especially Wells (Thompson), because they went to school together.”

The Revolution rookies are indeed a close group, and regularly go out to dinner as like a family would, all knowing they can take solace in their common experiences as first year players.
So after the news finally began to set in on Friday night, the rookies did just that: they went out to dinner as a whole. There, they offered words of encouragement to their hard luck friends.

“I told (Solle) to keep his head up, and that opportunities will come his way, and that it’s not the end of the world,” said Loftus. “I feel terrible for Ryan because I know how hard he works and how much he loved being here with the guys on the team. He’s going find a team that can use him, and he’s going do well wherever he goes.”

Though the loss especially reverberated among the rookies on a personal level, Helton also acknowledged that the news served as a stark reminder of how unpredictable the life of a professional athlete can be.

“You have to play like every day’s your last. Obviously, you really don’t know what’s going to happen. You just have to come to practice and work hard everyday, and try and make an impact.”

Nevertheless, although the business of soccer can be painfully cruel to those who play it, sometimes all a player can do is simply accept the news when a teammate – often times, a friend – is cut by the team.

“It’s going be a tough loss for the team, especially within the rookies; we have a tight-knit group. We don’t want to lose anybody,” said a somber Helton. “They’re both going to be missed.”

Loftus explained that although his fellow rookie and friend Solle is no longer a member of the team, the bond would always remain.

“We’ll keep in touch for the rest of our lives. He’s a good friend of ours.”

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