Feb. 10, 2022

Using Soccer to Overcome Trauma with David Ricca, 9/11 Survivor & NJ Youth Soccer Innovation Consultant

Using Soccer to Overcome Trauma with David Ricca, 9/11 Survivor & NJ Youth Soccer Innovation Consultant

In Episode 68, David Ricca, NJ Youth Soccer Innovate to Grow Consultant, Founder/President of Just Live Soccer, 9/11 Survivor, Soccer Resilience Ambassador, Member of 2010 World Cup Media & Marketing team, former soccer player, coach, and scout,...

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In Episode 68, David Ricca, NJ Youth Soccer Innovate to Grow Consultant, Founder/President of Just Live Soccer, 9/11 Survivor, Soccer Resilience Ambassador, Member of 2010 World Cup Media & Marketing team, former soccer player, coach, and scout, former MLS Liaison, former CBS Manager, and former Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor, discusses how he has used soccer and other tools to overcome the PTSD he has experienced following the traumatic experience he had in Tower Two of the World Trade Center on 9/11, how he is using soccer to help vulnerable children around the world, his innovation work with NJ Youth Soccer, and how we can create environments where our kids can flourish. Specifically, David discusses:

  • His story, his unique background, how he developed his passion for soccer, his work with vulnerable communities, and how he got to where he is today (2:12)
  • His incredible story of survival in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center on 9/11 (11:00)
  • How he has overcome trauma from his 9/11 experience using soccer and other tools (20:45)
  • His personal why and how he is living it out (35:10)
  • His work with NJ Youth Soccer and the Innovate to Grow grant (38:02)
  • How we can create environments for our children to flourish in our youth soccer programs (43:02)
  • How he uses the lessons he has learned through soccer in his marriage (47:17)
  • His recommendations (50:24)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thank you so much for your download. Thanks for being a part of this show that I absolutely love getting to do what I get to do. And I know that Paul Jobson is always grateful for the conversations that I'm able to have with our guests, that we get to talk about every few episodes. Today, we have a great guest David Ricca. With us. And he's got an amazing resume that we're going to get to get to talk about today. But before we do, I just want to remind you to reach out to us. We'd love to have continue the conversation with you beyond you just listening. That you're getting the great information from these people, but what makes it even better is when you're able to converse with me and Paul about what you're learning and how we can help you.

We have the Coaching the Bigger Game program atcoachingthebiggergame.com. Paul and Marci Jobson have the Warrior Way program that they're doing down there in Waco, Texas as well. And I know they'd love to talk with you about that. Jobsonsoccer.com [00:01:00] can also just send me any. If you have any thoughts, if you have any things that you would like to discuss with me you can do that at my email address as well as the Facebook group.

So without more for me, David, how you doing today?

[00:01:15] David: Good. How you doing Phil? It's good to, good to see you. Good to hear from you and just thank you again. I’m honored to be here. I really am. And I've been waiting for this day.

[00:01:25] Phil: Well, good. Well, I'm honored to have you on the show. And I know we, we actually connected doing the soccer resilience, mental health summit a couple of weeks ago.

Month ago at this point. And you know, I just got to hear your story and immediately said, Man, I'd love to get you on the show, have a conversation more on that. I want to just get to know you and hang out. We've been able to do that a little bit via the zoom world. So, you know, that's something you're also an ambassador for soccer resilience.

I know that's something that you're doing, but there's a whole lot more. Can you just share it with our audience a bit about your background, how you got to be where you are today, how you got to be passionate about soccer [00:02:00] and leadership and mental health.

[00:02:02] David: Yeah, absolutely. It's, it's a couple of things, couple several things.

Whatever you want to call it. A, I grew up in a family Argentine. All my parents are all my cousins and family are from Argentina. Came to New York city, about 50 years ago I was born in New Jersey, New Brunswick, and my mother's side had 17 brothers and sisters. So we're talking a big family. My brother, my dad had about four siblings.

So, my whole life was around the Argentinian culture. Obviously when I went to school, it was a different culture, but soccer. It's just all we've been, it's just always been you know, I think I was born with soccer, just learning about it. All my uncles played, my dad played and, you know, they played in flushing Queens when I was a kid.

I remember going there the big globe and just killing each other on those grounds and just like no grass or anything. I just remember the whole thing. It was, it was a [00:03:00] weekend thing and they would have a saddles, you know, the Argentinian barbecue with. That's how I came in and I played soccer my whole life since I was four.

Ended up getting her around the year to 2001 which I'll share. It was a big month that month. And worked at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney as in a Latin American wealth management division because I speak fluent in Spanish. So it's help help me to reach out to Latin American companies or individuals to help them with their financial goals and did that for Morgan Stanley for about six years.

And I've always been in soccer, all been. Part of a group where as a consultant where we, we did all the international games that came to the states like Brazil Mexico, all those teams that were coming at one point for friendlies, we were in charge of all that and logistics. And that's when I really knew soccer that instead of playing or coaching, that [00:04:00] there's literally like a business behind all this, you know, all this soccer youth from adults from professional.

It's a business behind her, and I really wanted to learn so much and I volunteered with these guys and just learned and learn and learn and you know, just to, to stop there. But then that started Just Live Soccer and there's so much that went into it and just working at CBS and all this, like, you know, working at Morgan Stanley, CBS, a big, a huge companies.

And I was always out there outreach unit talking individual. So I said, why didn't I do this with soccer? But I said and I'm a 9/11 survivor, which we'll get into this in 2001. So I started just live soccer because. I want it to give back somehow. So I didn't know how to give back with just, just live soccer.

So what I did is I formed tournaments and most of the proceeds went to a soccer charities. So that's how I brought the [00:05:00] charity and to giving back utilizing soccer. So, that's a little bit about me. You know, we can get it to 9/11 on a, you know, Well, you know, see what we think. Yeah, yeah,

[00:05:10] Phil: absolutely.

No, for sure. That's good. That's a good start. It's funny. I actually worked for a law firm back in 2002 where my main client was Smith Barney. So we represented. Jack Grubman and the WorldCom options and all that, all that good stuff. So that was back in the day, it kind of brought back some, some memories that you know, talk about trauma.

There's there might be some there for me, but I'm not, I'm not gonna lie. But but no, you actually got to work with the world cup in 2010 as well. You've been, as you said, the kind of the business side of soccer, doing media, doing different things there, which is, which is. Obviously pretty cool.

Anything, anything having to do with the world cup is, is great, but I know one of the things and, and we, and you talked about this a bit with the with the [00:06:00] mental health summit, but you talked about being a 9/11 survivor, do you want, I do want you to go into that and I really want you to talk. You know, this is actually where my, my two worlds collide to be in part of the orphan care and the orphan and vulnerable children around the world.

And that so much of it is trauma informed care. And what I talk with a lot of people is soccer is one of the most. I mean, it's probably the most spoken language in the world. Right. But it's also a tool we can use in the context of trauma and in the context of helping people overcome and helping people to be able to really continue to live with, with this, these, these issues that we have.

So can you speak to that? You know the story, first of all, and then how you have you soccer and how you use this game, that we love to be able to help you work through a lot of these things that come with a traumatic event like that.

[00:06:51] David: Totally. So yes, I was picked to go to the 2010 south African the workup in, I worked in Cape town.

I was there [00:07:00] for two months, part of the marketing and media department. I basically. Just said a prayer. And I said, all right, here's the application thousands and thousands of applications were there. And I just told them my story of the 9/11, why I want to do this. And this is going to, I ended up going there by myself on a journey that would change my life pretty much.

And. I didn't know about orphanages. I didn't know about kids being homeless. And I w I, you know, I grew up in Patterson, but I never saw Paterson, New Jersey, which is, you know, an urban area. And then there never saw kids being homeless. And I saw that in South Africa and right there a little little alarm in my brain said, well, you have to, you know, you got to try to do something.

I can't believe there's kids sleeping literally on the streets and asking for a couple of dollars. I had soccer balls at the, at the world cup that I bought from here, like a whole bunch. And, you know, I gave him a few bucks. They may, when I gave him that soccer ball, they put it on and they started playing [00:08:00] and just to see their faces on these kids, I said, all right, this is what I'm going to do.

I'm going to give back. Utilizing the game of soccer for anyone or anyone in the world, but mostly for that, that, that group that really has issues. And once they step on the field, you know, those issues might be gone for a little bit, but at least we gave them the opportunity to play and forget about what's going on at home.

Forget about what the, the economy and everything. That's where 2010 just live soccer started after it started during that, when I was on my way to the world cup there. And how we'll utilize it from now, from then till now is just partnering up with groups like soccer resilience which are doing the exact helping mental group.

And that's where I'm at. And I'll tell you the 9/11. And then just, just bear with me. Like I, sometimes I go off the radar, I speak from my heart. So it goes, I love it. I love it. So, that's how just live soccer [00:09:00] happened just to help people some way in soccer, how was how it helped me. So how it helped me.

It kept me out of trouble when I was a kid. It taught me so many things about life. My and my family. We always spoke about soccer, the dinner table, whatever. It just taught me so much. Teamwork. Everything I really, really is, is the soccer component when you're on that field and off the field. And when I worked for Morgan Stanley, 2001, I started there in 2000 after.

My soccer career was kinda over. I played a lot of study pro teams and back then there wasn't like. Ups sell and so many opportunities for us. So we would go from team to team and collect a few dollars there and get practice and gas money, but that's the way it was, you know, and I ha I was loving, loving life and, and I also worked at Morgan Stanley.

I didn't know anything about stocks and bonds or any of that at all. My parents didn't know either, so I wasn't taught that. So I always had a bar mitzvah one time and somebody. That I know for a while that I seen him [00:10:00] at a couple of them, it says the image of Greg Amyra. His name will, will come up later on during this, he said, Hey you know, cause I was working for a small firm, but I didn't know anything about it.

I wasn't taught anything. So he said, Hey, why don't you come and work at Morgan Stanley in the 73rd floor? I said, wow, really? So. Long story short, he was a vice-president there, but I still had to go through all the protocols and we went to seven interviews to get into their comprehensive training program.

It was three months, three months of not doing anything, but just learning, learning, learning. They had this training facility on the 68 floor. It was just, it looked like a trading floor in New York stock exchange. Just bizarre. And from like 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Friday. So that's where I became a financial advisor to the wealth management division.

And I was the first one, always there. First one there last one will leave type attitude reading as much as I can learning from other vice-president there and just not being shy and going to [00:11:00] them. And Hey, I'm new with this? So September 11th, 2001 was just like any other day, I got there quarter to seven or something like that, it would always be early.

I always share the, my breakfast that I, that I, I that early morning is because I used to have to take two elevators to 73rd floor. It will be the first one. It stops at 44 floor from there. You'd switch. You go to the 73rd, but on the 44th floor, there is a cafeteria beautiful cafeteria for Morgan Stanley employees.

There was a guy named John that was there every single day and so early in the morning just an amazing, amazing human being. Just happy. So happy to see him. When I go up to work, it just gave me that little push. So I got my egg whites for egg whites, scooped in a bagel, got tomatoes. I know what the exact and I went upstairs and started to have conversations with my colleagues and, you know, whatever time it was.

[00:12:00] I was in Tower Two. The lights flickered on and off, like really quickly. So I looked to my, to, to my buddy who had a cubicle two months to my right. And I said, what was that? And he's like, that's probably an air conditioning or something with, to do with there, with the HVAC or something like that.

So when you're playing any pay any mind to it. So we had person facing had an office facing Tower One. He comes out screaming, the loudest scream I've ever heard. He saved my life. I wish I could see him one day. Thank him. I don't know his name. I forgot that I wasn't there that long, but he was a very, very you know, he's been there for a long time, so he comes out, everybody screaming, everybody get out, get out.

So I'm like, I knew they got up really quickly because of the fear in his eyes. So I'm like, wow, I got to get up. So I looked to my right. Where his office was open so I can see the other building. I used to saw a whole bunch of papers, like a ticket tick parade. It just looked crazy. So [00:13:00] we went to the staircase.

We're walking down the staircase, 73, 72. And it's two by two. So very slowly there's people coming out of each floor. There's numbers, big numbers on each floor. So I could see how, what floor, what floor I'm on. I was, and we all thought it was an accident back then there were so many planes to be charted and Phil, I'll tell you, we just thought it was an accident and people were joking around Hey, we're going to get back upstairs and listen to their earnings for whatever stock it was back then. And yeah, that I was somewhere in the thirties, man. And that's when the second plane hit and that's when changed my life, man, I fell to the ground.

It's the hardest, hardest hit, like, you know, I don't know what it is to get hit by an NFL player linebacker, but it was just felt so hard. You know, something to that point where. That's something that hit us hard can literally sweep me off my feet and fall to the ground, like literally on my shoulder which [00:14:00] killed me.

And we're on the ground. I don't know how many long, a minute or two, and then the sprinklers are going off. The lights are turning on and off. Huge mayhem. The buildings literally crackling making a crackling sound like a, like a, a branch. And it's, I'm literally looking at the walls and the walls are literally moving and making that crackling sound.

Literally these walls were moving and I said, oh, my, this thing is going to tip over. Not the way I'm saying it now. Like with tears and just screaming. Yeah. Yeah. W we, I was with this woman who hurt her ankle. Never saw her again in my life, but I put like, you know, I put her, her arm on my shoulders and we walked down together cause she couldn’t walk.

So she was kind of leaning on me and her and I. And we had some friends there as well. And we walked step-by-step and we made it out. And as soon as I got to the bottom, that's where the mall was at that time. [00:15:00] And there was a Plaza between the first tower to two tower with the spear where you go out there to get lunch.

And I've been there probably every day in the spring or summer. And right there is when I saw the horrific things, parts of. Things that, you know, it's just so graphic to, to say parts of planes, little fires, all over the place. They looked like little, like somebody like a little fire pits all over the place and the huge, huge Plaza.

And I look I'm like, wow, what just happened here? So literally I run in the inside the mall. Cause at this time that there was room and I started hearing these loud noises. Bang. I mean, it's uncomprehensive of how loud this noise was and they already set something up the cops, the cops Fireman's control station inside, somewhere in there.

And I said, what is that noise? And. He looks at me kind of weird. And he literally told me those were people jumping. That [00:16:00] that's what the noise was. And, and that loud noise, the loud noise of the plane hitting. It was just absolutely just can't it. Can't put it into words what that noise. So we finally get out.

We're across the street. I meet my friend, Brad, who was like your buddy, my buddy at work. Like, you know, you have a best friend you can count on. He was, he was my best friend there and he looks at me, he's real tall guy. And he's like, man, I think we just got terrorized or bombed or whatever, that, that sentence or whatever it was.

As soon as he finished his sentence, my tower started coming down. We're right there. We're right across the street. I know we hit it. And my towers coming down. For a split second, we just started booking running. We jumped into a store. I don't remember what the store was to this day or jewelry store was something.

And we [00:17:00] jumped in and they closed the doors and, and we just see like the, that cloud of debris just go right past us. And we still got some on. Dust and all that on our clothes and everything. And it was just so crazy. Like we, we started then we got out of there. Finally, when things settled down a little bit, when we could finally walk, we were walking towards the Brooklyn bridge and I'll tell you, you fell.

I was going to jump into the east river because I thought they were going to bomb the Brooklyn bridge. I was like, shaking. Like, what do I do? It was like a diehard where we, there was cops. I'd never seen an FBI jacket, you know, the ones you see in the movie, whatever. Never seen those real life, you know, and I, there were all over the place, black SUV's everything.

It was just, it was, it was just an unbelievable, they came out of the woodworks out of nowhere. So I was going to jump in the east river and my, my friend, Brad, no, they'll do. Let's just go all the way to the east side. And he had an apartment on 40th and first avenue. So [00:18:00] we walked the whole time to his apartment and we didn't even say much words to each other.

And people were around cars, listening to radios TVs of windows of, of bodega's. And while this has all happened, I'm trying to get a phone to call my mom. And my dad and my stepdad and my dad and family in New Jersey, but the, the phones weren't working to call out so I could not call them and say, Hey, I'm okay for now.

And I didn't get in touch with him until like about 8:30 at night when I found. my friend, Brad and his life now they found, cause I wanted to go home. I could stay there for, I want to do, but I wanted to get home because it's like my family. And then, you know, they, they think it's, you know, not a good, not a good outcome's gonna come out of this, you know, so I found a train from Penn station, [00:19:00]one train to last one.

To go into Bloomfield, New Jersey. My family lived in Clifton, so that's when I actually called them. I went in there with the debris that people were so nice. They were helping me put water in my eyes and all that stuff inside the train and there was an, there was a phone there, a connect called collect, and my brother answered the phone and he goes, man, Dave, your voice never sounded so beautiful, man. My brother's just a hard dude for him to say that. I said, just call mom and tell dad that I'm okay. I'm actually in Bloomfield. Can you guys pick me up? And they were all there and, and you know, they, that's how they found out that I was. Okay. And. Yeah, that's just the beginning of a disaster waiting, waiting to come with the PTSD and everything.

So that's a story when 9/11 and then after that, there's another one with the PTSD, but I just wanted to share that with you.

[00:19:51] Phil: Yeah. You know, and I, I would just like to continue with that [00:20:00] PTSD conversation as much as you want to share. And then weave in, you know, obviously with the, with the shove, we'd really want to help people understand how, you know, you've used the game, but also just other tools that you were able to use because you know, this podcast, isn't just about soccer, right?

This is about leading people. And we're going to have people who've gone through traumatic experiences, new from hard places in different ways. And so I just love to help people to give them tools, to be able to help them to help those who they're being able to impact their

[00:20:35] David: life. Absolutely. And that's why I was honored to, Phil. When you asked me to come on this because, you know, you're, you, you're doing something about it and I truly, truly appreciate you as a person.

You're, you're, you're a podcast and you know, you're really touching a lot of people. So, I'm blessed that I'm here with you. So I just want to say that and yeah, I'll tell you You know what happens with the big companies or whatever finance is very important, [00:21:00] obviously was money. It was, it was there.

So I had to go to what happened at Tuesday. I had to go to work on Thursday. That would not, I would've lost my job due to the reason is there was no more room and that, that was my career. So I went Thursday. We were on the 22nd floor of 2 Penn Plaza, which is right on top of Madison square garden. So I'm still at the 22nd floor, still freaking out noises.

I drove into the city from the, from New Jersey. It was just really bad. The PTSD hit me hard. I couldn't sleep sweating. I still sweat every day. But just loud noises, frayed of people thinking they're gonna bomb us again. Any second. Just something bad. It was going to happen every single day. And I suffered like that.

And then it just a lot more I, I didn't, you know, we had a therapy more externally provided a lot of therapy. I didn't do it a lot in the beginning. You know, we have a lot of friends, [00:22:00] close friends, you know, close knit that they really, it hit them hard too. They thought they lost their buddy. You know, that we grew up together.

We're at a nice, we still do. And the PTSD from 2001. 2006. Nobody knew who, who I was. I completely just changed as a human being in that minute being in that building. I was not funny anymore or goofy. I stopped playing soccer. We were going out and just doing the drinking and just everything to forget about why I'm dealing with this, but you know, you go out drinking or you do other stuff it's going to be right there anyway.

So that, that didn't work. I played I was playing in a semi-pro league the same September of 2001. The end of September, I had a Sunday morning game. When I was at the game, I jumped up and tore my ACL. So terrible September, like September. Yeah. So tore my ACL literally. So I'm like, wow, look, what else?

You know, [00:23:00] it's like, I got operated in November. From 2001 depressed, sad, PTSD, everything you want to call it. I was everything. And I didn't care about anybody else, but myself, I just turned into a different human being and, and, and what I did was nothing. I didn't do anything. I just kept going with my life and.

I don't, I don't know if I would be here if I didn't do something about it. So, 2006, I went to my mom's house and mind you, I was at Morgan Stanley, making really, really, really good money at the time. Really good. And, and being part of the wealth division and you get perks because I know Latin and, you know, Spanish and everything.

So. Besides that, but I'm saying it's like, some people wouldn't have left. I had to leave. If not, I would have been dead. I'm not kidding you. Maybe from a heart attack or nerves or whatever it was, pills and stuff like that. So, cause they tried to give me every pill, you know, you could possibly imagine for anxiety and all that stuff.

So one time, 2006, I went to my [00:24:00] mom's like really early. About 9:00 AM and I went there. I lived in the city at the time and I went there and then my mom, my mom's never changed the room since I left there, when I was 18 to go to college. And it was always the same, you know, same posters. Maradona and stuff like that.

You know, like the US national team. And I went there, she didn't hear me come up the stairs and she was literally crying. And like, you know, praying on my bed, like literally bawling I liked or something happened. Like somebody died. Remember this is 2006 and my, and my stepdad, like what's going on, mom?

He's like, she's been doing. Every day, since 2001 know crying for our son to come back work or get out of this thing. She didn't know PTSD either Melbourne. None of us knew we didn't ever think in a million years that this was going to happen. And that right there, I said, wow, you know, I'm not just hurting myself.

I'm hurting my friends, my family. But. Just to, you know, just, just being away from them and just being a different human being. So I needed to get help. So I talked a lot of [00:25:00] therapy and everything, and they said, you know, you really need to get out of the world for a good six, 12 months. So. What I did was I had an uncle got arrested.

So he had a big, big, big acreage in Argentina. And he used to be a soccer coach as well, too. He had weights and stuff, so, I went there for. We meditated, we prayed lot read so many books, train soccer every day. I was a little 40 pounds overweight and just, just leaving the world like on a sabbatical really, really changed my life because I came out of that.

A different person. Cause I don't know if I would ended up in a mental hospital or whatever about it could have it couldn't continue the way I was going. It wasn't because I was doing drugs or anything. It's just my mind. And I think the nerves, man, it was so neuro, I was always like shaking and stuff and it there's no reason.

So that changed my life. 2007, I resigned from Morgan Stanley. They thought I was nuts. But they understood, I resigned 2006. [00:26:00] You know, give them a two weeks notice and flew out here throughout four out of the states. So I flew out in New York, I had to get out and it changed my life. I came back 2007 and from there is when I started I went back to school study psychology wanted really to know what happened with me.

And to this day, That changed my life, but there's still things that I deal with every day. In terms of thinking about what happened, but now, now I accept it. This is who I am. This is what happened to me. So I'm just get accepted and. And I have a way to deal with whatever comes to my way. So that's, yeah, there's a lot more, but I want to leave it at that.

If you want to say something.

[00:26:42] Phil: Yeah. Well, what would you recommend for, I mean, obviously it's different, everyone's story. Everyone's journey is different, but you talked about, I accept it. I know I, you know, you, you face it basically and you own it effectively, but when someone's dealing with whether it's [00:27:00] anxiety, I mean now during COVID.

Correct more than ever in my life. At least I'm seeing anxiety, panic attacks on the, on the rise. Like we've never seen before. Right. Suicide rate jumping over the last 24 months, the stats are unbelievable. Right. But so much of it is. A lot of it's fear of the unknown, right. A lot. And, and, and what's going to happen, but there's other tools that people can use in in.

Can you share some, I mean, that you've used, that's worked for you and you've, you've named it. You've talked a little bit about them, but can you just go to. Share specifics about what people can do. That's worked for you that might help someone out there who's going through something

[00:27:44] David: similar. Right? Well, first things I w I went to, to, to the love, love of soccer, which has been my whole thing.

I went back to that and went to, I was coaching. Just keeping my. Just keeping them busy and especially with something I love soccer, but the key is in [00:28:00] the beginning, I didn't get help. It's okay to ask for help. I thought I was too macho, whatever. And thank God it's changed a little bit now, but with the suicide rates, but there's so much help out there.

Like you can just go on to a meeting. Online, you know what I mean? There's so many apps and everything. Some are free, you don't have to pay for them. And, and, and, and it's, you, you can even be anonymous and just share you know, I'm on, I'm on all these private groups on Facebook and Reddit and you literally just share and, and you'll have all these people coming back and they don't even know who you are if you don't want to.

You know, if you don't want to say who you are. So there is help out there and find something that you'd love so much and really focus on that and talk to people like don't be afraid to talk. I was afraid to talk. I didn't talk to anybody, Phl, we wouldn't be here right now. And it just talking to you makes me feel better talking about a right this right thi second.

I was just changed my day. To be honest with you. I had a pretty tarred. They had a really bad, I didn't sleep well. Last night woke up [00:29:00] breathing heavy and all that stuff. That's just kind of normal. I accepted it, but you have a groggy day the next day, but now talking about it, right, the second has just lifted up my enthusiastic enthusiasm as I always am.

And just talking to you, somebody that can listen you know, they're, they're not out there just to listen and say, Hey, who cares? So find somebody find somebody that can, you can talk to whatever. Telling you what to do. Just, you need somebody to listen to you and say, Hey man, I'm having a hard time. This is crazy.

This is what I'm feeling. And, and you can find out anywhere now I'm so blessed that you can find it anywhere. People could play well psychotherapy, so expensive. Well, there's free ones now it's free. It's free. I'm blessed that the world trade center health services has been so good to me. I'm part of the survivors network.

I have free therapy for life, but even besides that, I go on to other groups. I talked to therapist, I talked to, you know, podcasts like yours. And I continue to do soccer [00:30:00] and now with soccer resilience and just live soccer, I give back to the worst day of my entire life. I turned it into a positive, you know, in the beginning I didn't do that.

I just said, Hey, who cares? I almost died. We were listened to my friends. We were all messed up in the head because of what happened. Hey, let's just go out and party and forget about it that way. But that never worked, obviously backfired really, really hard. And. Seek help. There's nothing wrong with it. I mean, we're just, we're just humans out there that needs to talk to somebody before it gets really, really bad.

If I didn't, if I didn't resign in 2006, I really, really believe I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be here, married and I have a little rescue dog. I just, it was, you know, it was just. Wasn't me. So now I am I just ask for help, man, please. It's out there. It's you can't say it's not out there.

There's apps. There's groups. There's especially zoom now with everything [00:31:00] virtual and we could do it, man. And talk to me if you want to call me, I mean, well, we'll let it out, man. We'll let it out and tell me what you're feeling, you know, to. Beat the crap out of somebody, whatever it is, talk about it.

You know, why what's the reason, what is that going to accomplish? You know, every time I'm in, I get upset when I wake up or I think of bad things and it affects me for like a minute or two. I'm like, wait a minute. I put my feet down, I'm safe. Wherever I am in a say, okay, I'm here. So that's just a thought in my mind, it's going, gonna go away the next minute.

And that's one of the things I use. I, I plant my feet down. Well, my feet are always down, but I like put my knee my hands on my knees and say, okay, my feet are on the ground. I'm okay. I'm not going to die at this moment that the plane's not coming to hit me wherever I am, you know, I gotta be home. I can be an office or whatever.

So please, there's so many, many different therapies that will be right for you and your individual [00:32:00] circumstance that I promise you. It will work. But please just ask, ask, as I say, ask and you shall receive, so please do that please.

[00:32:09] Phil: And I think that's so helpful. I mean, even just talking to my kids, talking to other people's kids, the kids that I coach and just hearing about.

How anxious they are. Eh, and it always, I don't know why it surprises me so much, but boy, to hear about what they they're, they're ashamed of these thoughts that they have of, you know, they're yes, they're irrational. Yes. They're not logical, but they’re real. Thoughts. Right. And they're real issues. And they're real things that if you just keep 'em in, it's gonna eat you from the inside out.

Right. And, and so what you just said, I think that hopefully that will help people, hearing stories, hearing people talk about stories, you know, hopefully it will free people up to say, oh, I'm not alone. I'm not. And so the more people talk about it the more, and it's not just to get [00:33:00] a bunch of people talking about and making stuff up.

So they feel like they're part of the group. That's not what I'm talking about. No, there is real, I've never, I've been fortunate enough to never, you know, at least in my adult years never really deal with things. I, but when I was a kid, I had, you know, lots of thoughts and not fortunately, I, I shared everything cause I just talked a lot and my mom would be like, wow, that's kind of weird, but we, we talk about it and it was like, all right, it's gone now.

But my, you know, my son is, is more reserved and other kids are more reserved and so they might not share as much. And so I just want to encourage you folks to, to share, to, to share with your parents, share with your friends, share with, share with people in, in people you trust, right. To find people that you know and trust that will protect the information and not use it against you too.

Right? Cause that could obviously cause other issues. And so, I'm super encouraged by this. I know it's, it's, it's just something that I get excited to see how, you know, God just works in people when, when we [00:34:00] open ourselves to it. Right. Cause we can close ourselves off to everybody and everything, but I just look at it and with you and, and with, with people you know, like yourself who, who have really escaped something that did take so many people and it's so hard, but I look at it and go.

So Psalm 139 talks about God numbers are days, right? God knows the number of days notice the number of hairs on her head. I look at it and go. He's got a purpose for you. He's got a, why? Why? So with you? What, what do you see that? I mean, you look back and you go, okay. From 2001, 2006, it was just this blur and you weren't really living come out of that.

You come and you use soccer, you use other things and you, and you're able to share. Now, what would you say in 2022? As we're talking here, what is your personal, why, why, why do you think God has you here and spared you in 2001 to be able to now help people and encourage people, but what is your why and life purpose at this point?

And how does that play out in your. [00:35:00] That's

[00:35:00] David: a great question. Yeah. My why is to utilize my God given gift, which is to not be shy, not, not be shy. I don't mind being uncomfortable in situations, so that right there gives me a, I guess, a little talent to, you know, be free, I guess, an extrovert, whatever you want to call it.

To utilize soccer, to utilize soccer, resilience, just love soccer to help kids help parents. And my why is literally I wake up in the morning, what am I going to do today to help someone, even if it's by giving them a thumbs up on Facebook, or just saying something because everybody's going through something.

And my why since 2006 has been to help individuals that are going through mental health issues. And I use soccer because that's what I know. But there's so many other things that I do. I, I volunteer I put a lot of that [00:36:00] stuff on Facebook that are, or other social media that are encouraging.

And that is my why every day I'd wake up. What am I going to do today? Why I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it because I wouldn't be here if I didn't do something about it. So let's get out there the world. Now you can touch anyone because. Social media and podcasts. And, and so that's my why I want to just continue, continue to give, because you know, just the stories of kids these days, like, like, you know, your son, they just keep it reserved in there.

And I've done that. And I blew up 2006. Like it was just a disaster, it's a bomb, you know? So just to keep it, hold it in there is really bad. And I, I do it sometimes too now. If I'm fighting my wife or whatever it is, I hold it in for weeks. And then we get into an argument and it just blows up because I never told her about it, but I.

Even as a, as a husband to talk to your wife and say, Hey that's [00:37:00] soccer. That's how, you know, teamwork. We talk about things like she, of my teamwork. I need to trust her. She's my teammate. And, and my, my goal was to be a good husband. Hopefully down the road. We're praying about it for, for kids and just continue doing what I'm doing and, and meeting individuals like yourself every day.

I try to meet somebody new like yourself. That's. Make an impact in my life. I mean, you have already, I mean, just putting me on the show and your amazing leadership and just everything about you is, is what I would like to have a relationship with. So yeah, that's my why.

[00:37:35] Phil: Well, that's encouraging. Thank you for those words.

And, and I know one of the other things that you're doing, and I know it's a big part of what you're doing lately is. Working with the grassroots initiatives for youth soccer in New Jersey. Can you talk a little bit about that? Some of those initiatives and, and how you're how you're working with the youth?

[00:37:52] David: Yeah. So I grew up playing ODP, everything in New Jersey. So, soccer, New Jersey was soccer was always there for me. But [00:38:00] I, I just, one day it was a Sunday Like two years ago, I call I, you send an email to, to the executive director and I say, Hey listen to my, my, my, my specialty is marketing or outreach.

And if you ever need any help, let me know. So we, we got on the phone, I started volunteering for them. And then we, we get this grant from us soccer, which is mainly to be used. To help underserved or just any clubs or, or any programs that need a little help either by resources, education, or maybe some funds.

And. Man I'm saying, this is exactly what I want to do in my life and with soccer and be part of a governing body where I can learn. So I I'm blessed that I'm doing this cause, cause I meet people every single day, either through this or go to meet them at their fields and see all their needs and you know, just see at least coaches that put everything into it.

And, and, and, you know, they, they sometimes get so disappointed [00:39:00] because even though they put everything into it, nothing really changes. You know, that's just the way life is, you know, it's not like, you know, roses and stuff. So I help them. I help my mirror. We were we're the governing body. I am here to help you.

I'm I'm the guy that's out there to spokesperson for New Jersey, you soccer and talking to. Anyone that how we can help with all our resources and everything. And it's just been phenomenal. Absolutely. I am absolutely blessed to be doing this. I met some indivi, some amazing human beings and listening to stories and sharing mine and immediately, you know, you've clicked because of soccer, but I'm now on utilizing soccer again.

But now with New Jersey youth soccer, which has opened up the doors to thousands of kids, thousands and yeah, it's just, it's every day and that's what I'm doing for them. And I do a lot of other stuff with them too, but that is like my main title, project consultant for the innovate to [00:40:00] grow grant.

We're trying to. You know, make New Jersey the grassroots king of the United States, but then utilize that with other states as well, too. So we're all connected to US Soccer. So that's what we're doing. Yup. But doing it almost a year and a half now just loving. That's awesome.

[00:40:18] Phil: I just love the power of soccer.

I mean, it it's, it's not only played everywhere, but it's used, I mean, you've seen it with just live soccer and with your travels, you throw a ball on the field and. It breaks down every barrier, right? It breaks down the walls. It breaks down all the different demographics, all these different debates and the hatred and the, you know, I mean, you see it in the game where they're, they're kneeling and everything else to say, we were saying no to racism, but the reality is that I've seen around the world for the most part, there will be racist people, but when you get on that field, Let's play the game.

Right. And know [00:41:00]

[00:41:00] David: amazing thing in the world. It's just

[00:41:02] Phil: unreal class differences, you know, race differences, religion, differences, all these different things. We just say let's play and everyone can kick a ball. Right? Like, I mean, some people that are uncoordinated, some people this, but they can, you can still get out there and laugh and run and just, just have a good time.

And, and I think through that, when we're intentional. We can do so much. We can teach so many lessons why we do the show, obviously, but it's also why I'm working with you. Orphanages different people around the world to say, how can we use this tool to be able to build trust, to be able to build relationships, to be able to build into communities and to help these kids who don't have family to these kids who don't have the things that they need, how can we get them, those things in the best way so that everyone can flourish, right?

How can we create these environments? Which is what you're doing in New Jersey and what we're trying to do, and we're going to do around the world. How can we create [00:42:00] these environments that allow everyone in them to flourish? Right. As I say, bring a little Shalom to the communities around us, what does that look like?

And so I just love hearing just, you know, your heart, how you're taken, you know, and just saying. We got this. Let's let's work together to see how we can help these kids. Not just be good soccer players, because most of these, I mean, that's the reality. Most of these kids won't play in college. Most of these kids won't go on play.

Most of these kids probably won't even play when they're 15, 16, but they can learn lessons. They can use the rest of their life if we see that as the priority and not making little Messi’s to get back to your Argentinian roots out there because. That's unrealistic and it's going to burn kids out and it's going to freak kids out and it's going to cause more anxiety for kids.

Cause they're going to have put these expectations on themselves. I mean, I don't want to speak for you, but I just, what do you think about that? Yeah,

[00:42:52] David: man just going around, I see it all the time. They have these huge expectations. You, you know, they give him this [00:43:00] story of, of Of success.

You know, you do this, you would, and all this stuff. And I really have a hard time thinking about that because it's about yeah. Teaching them the game, but then teaching them, what can they do when they're done playing a game and it's not a league anymore. It's just pick up soccer up because we have a huge issue where there's a, there's a, there's a stoppage, but like when the kid turns 13 or 14, Either plays in high school or club or he doesn't play it.

So pretty much that stops them from playing soccer. So, we need to teach these kids Fundamentals about life and, and disappointments and failure, not just go, go, go kick the ball, kick the ball. And we soccer has, has literally become that where your teams, the basket we're gonna have the best dis we're going to have the best this.

And then it's, there's a lot of disappointments out there every Sunday, every, every day. There's disappointments from these kids that thought, Hey, I thought I was gonna make it [00:44:00] and be a little messy and all that stuff. You know, I think it's crazy that they're doing this and I know why they're doing this, but I'm not going to get into a whole lot of politics, but it's literally nuts that, you know, You know, this is the way the game is, and I'm hoping if I can go out there and help, a couple of kids have teams in my daily outreach and talking to individuals that at least I'm doing my job, my part.

And yeah, it's just. It's a little sad, you know, it really has to how, because the game like you and I could get it, we'll fight in the game while we're playing. But then after the game, we're cool. You know what I mean? Even the game and it's just the best sport in the world. Like, it doesn't matter, white, black, anything, any country you're playing against each other.

And it's like, amazing, amazing. That's why the world cup's amazing. And and you know, all the leagues you play against are different, different cultures, different. Economic reasons where they're at. So yeah. Yup.

[00:44:58] Phil: Yeah. When I lived in Honduras, I was [00:45:00] just, as you're talking about that, we're talking, I just remember.

And I lived there for about seven weeks and I got to play with a team over the summer and immediately. I'm buddies with these guys, right? Like we're hanging out. We're out now. I will tell you. I'm sure there were all kinds of slurs being yelled at me as the only white dude out there on the field. I know that there were, I know that they were speaking in Spanish.

I knew enough Spanish to know that they weren't saying good job go Phil. But you know, it was, it was fun and it was so great, but because the guys on my team, even the guys, like you sit on the other team after the game, it was, it was done right there in the. It's the juice is a competition, but it was, it was a blast.

And to be able to cause those are guys, I never would have very unlikely that I would have talked with them. But one of the guys from the community that I, I oversaw there back in the day he played on the teams like, Hey, come out and play with me. And I was like, yeah, of course let's go play in. The fields were just dirt.

I mean, they were, I was afraid I was gonna break an ankle every time I was out there. It didn't matter. And the balls were flat half the time and [00:46:00] the penalty spot was eight yards out instead of 12 and, you know, whatever, but it didn't matter. Right. So that's the beauty of it. I just think we can play and have fun and just hopefully learn too.

That's what I'm hoping we can use this game more intentionally to learn to love, better, learn to. To get along better, not just for the sake of getting along, but the sake of actually understanding people and knowing people in trusting people, because that's what we can can do if we're intentional. And that, I mean, that's why we're doing this, this this program that, you know, coaching the bigger game.

I mean, obviously the bigger game is not soccer it's life. And how can we really coach that through the game that we get to do? So with that, we're the last couple of questions we ask everybody. It's always bittersweet feeling. Come wrapping up these conversations, but we got to do it, right? Yeah, of course we could.

Of course we could, people might get bored at some point. But what lessons that you've learned directly from the game, and you talk a little bit about this earlier, but maybe you have something. [00:47:00] From the, from the game of soccer, have you used in your marriage really? And, and what does that look like?

[00:47:07] David: Yeah, so after 2006 you know, when I, when I played before the 9/11, I didn't think about you know, just thought about soccer winning and, and, you know, we had a great coach. We won the states in high school. You know, the culture is amazing. I always thought, you know, we always thought he was a mean guy, but now that I look back, it's like, wow.

He was really teaching us life lessons. Like don't be late you know, be there on time, you know, don't, don't go out late, you know, make sure you stick to the diets that he's telling, just follow directions and of what your superiors telling you. That's one thing. Be humble, humble, because everybody's different.

Everybody's on their own. So just please be humble. You know, I've learned that from the soccer game, teamwork, everybody's different. Everybody has their own position where they have their job to do. And then when I'm in a, in a [00:48:00] teamwork environment for a work or soccer, Brazilians, we each have our own little like our own skills to bring to the table.

All of that I've learned and it's helped me out in my marriage has helped me out in career wise. And just being an everyday person of how to soccer helped me with literally everything. I, every time I do something, I think about what would it do in the game, this, that, so it's always there. And I'm blessed that I have that, and that's why I'm out there.

Trying to teach that to Individuals coaches of players and anyone,

[00:48:33] Phil: you know, and I, I've never said this on this show, but you reminded me of it when you said every literally everything I do, it's helping me. And I just, I had a picture of course, through flash through my head. Cause I have random thoughts go through my head, but.

How many, how many iPhones or phones or other things have you saved with your feet by dropping them? And you just have the instinct to save it with your feet, right? I mean, that's another thing. Yeah.

[00:48:57] David: My wife gets mad at me because when stuff [00:49:00] drops on the floor or remote control, whatever it is, I pick it up.

Well, my toes, my feet. It's just, I'm not lazy. I literally, I just got to bend down and grab. But it takes so much longer, but to me, he's like a little competition. She's like, pick it up. What are you doing? So I'm like, wait, I almost got it. So yeah, you would have forever. It's just great. You brought that up.

That's hilarious. I, yesterday she was like, get it up, pick it up. I almost got it. And you gotta between the toes, you bring it up and then you got

[00:49:27] Phil: that's exactly right. That's exactly right. And for sure. Yeah. Why wouldn't you do that? I mean, so now you can tell that. You did it because you needed to talk about it on the podcast.

I mean, this is, you know, it's, it's important. You got to, you gotta have, you gotta have be able to have these conversations. There's a lot.


[00:49:42] David: a lot of proof from the game just by being with me, we've been together eight years and she had no idea about soccer, but then she started a really realized that the passion and everything that goes with it and, and she came with me to a couple regional tournament's that I was representing the state of New Jersey and She was just amazed at the passion, the [00:50:00] fans and everything.

And she learned it little by little. Yeah. So,

[00:50:03] Phil: yeah. No, that's great. That's great. Love it. Love it. All right. So last question. What have you read, listen to, or watch that has most impacted your thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership?

[00:50:14] David: Oh, wow. Okay. I read a lot I don't read, I read books, but I read a lot of blogs soccer and business leadership. I continue to read that because it keeps changing. You know, I had a hard time saying no to people that was like my really bad weakness just recently. And now I learned to say no that's going to things that's going to take my time or thing. I really don't have time.

Yeah. I've read that some book or something, it was about soccer. And then the, they came back and said, you know, saying no is really hard. And I learned that that was one of the most important lessons I've learned in our last year or two. And you know, I watched documentaries of, of, of, of. Now, you [00:51:00] know, just everybody who could watch it.

And I just watch everything educational and I continue every day to try to educate myself with people around me. You know, cause if you're with smarter people than you, you know, you'll learn and that's coming back to soccer because my brother is seven years old. And I used to play with him and all my cousins that are seven years old, the two.

And what does that do? It gives you the, the, the, the, you know, you need to be strong, they put you on a floor and H just the people I was around made me a better player. And it's the same thing. The people that you around, you want them to make you a better, a better person and make sure you find those friends that are making you a better person and not bringing you down or not make it funny.

You make fun of each other as friends, but nothing that's going to bring you down. You want somebody that's going to pick you up and challenge you. And that's my thing.

[00:51:52] Phil: Yeah, absolutely. I actually just was on a different podcast. If you guys want to check it out, it was The Bear and the Ball. It's the Cal South podcast, but Nick [00:52:00] Webster his interview meeting, we talked about this very thing was the idea of if you are a leader and you're the smartest person in the.

And the smartest person on your leader, you're probably not a great leader. You need to surround yourself with people smarter, better, and you know, in different areas where you're not as good. And you need to know what, you know, you need to know what you don't know and surround yourself with those people who will be able to help you with what you don't know.

Don't surround yourself with a bunch of, yes, men and women who. Say, oh, great job. Good job. But no people who are going to be better than you. If someone comes on your team and they're better than you celebrate that, because that means you're going to get better. Right? Don't get all bummed and go, oh no, I'm not going to play now.

Well, if you're not good enough to play, then if your team's going to get better with this other person, then. No, that's what the team's all about. Right? You want to push that team, right? So that's something that I think is a great leadership lesson. It's a great lesson in life too, because you know, you're going to be in jobs and you're going to think you're the, you know, big time.

And then all of a sudden, some [00:53:00] new hot shots going to come in and you know, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to, are you going to be better? Are you going to improve? Are you going to, are you going to go, ah, man figures, they bring someone out and no. Hopefully it should inspire you to do things that you would never been able to do without those people pushing you.

So now, absolutely. Yeah. No

[00:53:18] David: that, you know, don't get discouraged and say all, sorry, this is my time to go off to his level and work harder, you know? And instead of being discouraged on Dawn, I don't have, you know, that's not the way to do it. Like you just said. So, yeah. Absolutely.

[00:53:34] Phil: Well, thanks again for being a part of this.

Thanks for all that you're doing, man. I've just so grateful that we we did get to connect last month and we're, we're able to have these conversations. I can't wait to continue the conversation someday soon.

[00:53:46] David: Absolutely. My brother can't wait to after all this COVID or whatever, get together for a nice dinner or something.

Yeah. Won't, we'll make it happen.

[00:53:53] Phil: Great. That'd be great. All right, folks. Well, thanks again for being a part of this. Thank you for taking the [00:54:00] time just to listen. And I, and I hope that you're learning right along with me. With from, from David, all these other people, if you haven't gone back and listen to the other episodes I encourage you to do so we just did the recap from 2021 with about 20 or so different clips.

If you that's a good little sampler platter, if you haven't already listened to to a lot of it, or even just as a reminder of these great episodes that we've been able to have. So I just want to, again, thank you. I want to remind you about the coach and the, the bigger game program. We'll have that in the show notes, the word.

Program as well as the Facebook group that you can be a part of. So thanks again. But as always, as we sign off, I just hope and pray that you are taking everything that you're learning from this show, and you're using it to be a better leader, a better spouse, a better parent, a better friend. And you're also reminding yourself continually the soccer really does explain life and leadership.

Thanks a lot. Have a great week.[00:55:00]