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06 / 18

Kick This Around: Fan impact noticed by players

WRITTEN BY: Nick Barnowski
PUBLISHED ON: June 18, 2014

Expectations help determine our emotions. This can be good or bad depending on how we live our lives – more often than not, when something does not meet our expectations, our moods tumble as well.

Which is why sometimes it’s best to set no expectations at all.

Last week, I met up with Lansing United forwards Brian Cunningham and Julian Myers for dinner. Well, two of us had dinner.

Cunningham, whom I profiled on Monday, asked for a brownie sundae. Despite his order matching his personality, it’s safe to say I didn’t expect that.

Even though I work for the team, expectations such as that pale in comparison to the expectations each of the players set. (On a more serious note, it did make our waitress laugh.)

Nothing prepares you for what you don’t know. The journey for each Lansing United player was, in a way, a journey into the unknown. Brand new team, brand new competition, brand new…everything. So for Cunningham and Myers, having no idea what to expect was best for them.

“I had no idea where I was going,” Cunningham said. “I had to Wikipedia it. But, I was enthusiastic.” This sums up how more than a few players felt. Cunningham is from Virginia. Myers is from London. Matt Brown brought his wife and young daughters over from England. Tyler Pasher had never really played in Michigan before, let alone Lansing.

Now, after eight NPSL matches, including four at what these players now call home, the picture has cleared up a bit. The reception they’ve received at the East Lansing Soccer Complex has not gone unnoticed.

“You’ve got a stadium that only seats 800 people, but in the very first game you attract 900-plus in the first year of the team,” Cunningham said. “How could you not be excited about that? We have a real football culture.” Myers nodded his head up and down with a smile and agreed.

It’s hard to measure the impact fans have on performance. On the other hand, it is easy to see how appreciative the players are. Cunningham mentioned the new record attendance mark (1,072) set at the match against AFC Cleveland, the supporters group (Sons of Ransom), and the team appearances in cities across mid-Michigan. I could tell that he isn’t the only player on the club to feel the impact the community has had. His words and tone said it all.

“It makes a big difference,” he said. “It speaks volumes about the people. The love shown by the community comes right back to the club.”