The Interview Series is an ongoing segment in Burgundy Wave where we talk with players, fans, and the front office about what it means to Bleed Burgundy. I have spoken with a variety of people for this series, including Colorado Rapids President Tim Hinchey as well as players Jared Watts, Kevin Doyle and the Flakoglost Football Podcast.
I live about 10 miles from Dick's Sporting Goods Park. It is a pretty easy drive for me and I enjoy going out there any time I get the chance, and where the park is located has never been an issue for me. I know that some people find it too far to go for games and some get upset that it is not in Downtown Denver.
But imagine once what it would be like to have a (approximately) 120 mile (one-way) trip to Dick's Sporting Goods Park? And that you make that drive 17 times a year to watch your football team play?
I can't imagine that drive, but for Chris Waggoner (@cpwaggoner) this is exactly what he does. That is dedication. That is love. That is passion.
I had a chance to ask some questions to Chris about this and he thoughts on the Rapids in general. Here is what we talked about:
Burgundy Wave: Chris, how long have you been a Rapids and soccer fan?
Chris: I started watching the Rapids off and on around 2012 but nothing serious. I would catch a game on TV from time to time. I didn't become a fan of the Rapids until I attended a match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. This experience made me a fan for life.
I've been a soccer fan a bit longer. My son and my niece started playing traveling competitive soccer around 2010. A great friend of mine, that played soccer with Nat Borchers growing up, coached my son when he first started playing competitive. His love for the sport was infectious and I've been a fan ever since.
BW: How long have you been coming to games and tell me a bit about your drive and what makes it worth it?
Chris: We (my family and I) have been coming to games since August 3rd, 2013. We drive up from Pueblo, Colorado for Rapids games. Our drive takes about 2 hours and is about 120 miles one way. The experience makes it worth it for us. I've brought family and friends to games, my niece loves to come with us. Our sister lives in Denver so we get to spend time with her. Gameday experiences have been fantastic. We've been STH (season ticket holder) of the match, held the center flag before kickoff, and the kids have held the MLS flag during the singing of the National Anthem. We have met numerous players after matches and have a collection of autographs.
BW: What do you think of Pablo and the job he has done?
Chris: I like Pablo as a person. He has signed stuff for the kids and taken pictures with them. I haven't been a fan long enough to know him as a Rapids legend as some know him. His numbers as coach have been rough, to say the least. I do feel for him since he was thrown in as the head coach when Oscar Pareja left for Dallas. I do want him to succeed as head coach and will support him as the head coach of the Rapids. I guess the only thing I have second guessed with Pablo as head coach has been some of his in game substitutions.
BW: What do you think the Rapids have done well and what do you think they have failed at?
Chris: I think the Rapids have a fantastic staff. Dillon Ross and Cody Clough are the two staff members I have interacted with most. They are great gentlemen that have always helped us out whenever we need anything. I think the Rapids gameday experience is something the Rapids also do very well. I always have a great time at DSG Park.
I think the fan experience is starting to change due to the performance of the team which is a disappointment. Social media, for me, was always a fun way to interact with fans and the club. I still have fun meeting new Rapids fans on Twitter, but the Rapids have done way less recently on social media. For example, the Rapids always did a countdown to the fan appreciation match on social media interacting with fans, giving things away. I don't remember them doing this in 2015. I think the performance of the team has caused an avalanche of criticism from fans, so the Rapids have held social media to a minimum. The players have been less accessible after matches during some of the 2015 season, which bums out the kids the most. Whether that be due to performance or the growth of the league, I'm not sure.
BW: What do you think the Rapids need to do to make the playoffs?
Chris: I wish I had the answer to this question. The turnover will hurt chemistry and that takes time to build. I can't point to a signing they need to make that will have the playoffs written all over it. With that said, I do think the Rapids need to make a major signing with their third DP spot to have a chance. I also think a major signing will help the team with attendance, performance, and profit. MLS is changing and I don't want my beloved Rapids to fall too far behind.
BW: Despite the poor form over the last two years, why do you keep coming back?
Chris: Gameday experience and the players are the reason we keep coming back. I have fun at DSG Park, win, lose, or draw, as long as the gameday experience keeps us smiling. Player accessibility is key for us. I've been to Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche, and Nuggets games. In the "top four" sports in the US, the gameday experience and player accessibility are nowhere close to what the Rapids offer. We've even met visiting players. I get players and even coach are upset after a loss, totally understandable. For fans like myself with kids, player interaction is a great way to keep us coming back. I think when the league grows big enough that these player interactions are all but gone, it will be harder for us to keep making the trip to DSG Park from Pueblo.
BW: If you could ask the FO of the Rapids one thing, what would it be and why.
Chris: My question was actually discussed during the grass roots conference call they did earlier this year. I asked about player accessibility. I know, not the major, tough to answer question everyone was hoping for during that call. I can't stress enough that interacting with the players makes us care about them and keeps us coming back.
I think at this point I would ask one of two things. I want to know the true story behind Drew Moor losing his captaincy and not being kept in Colorado. Drew is my favorite (my youngest's middle name is Drew, after Drew Moor) and I will miss him dearly. I know this is a selfish question, but would be fun to discuss over a cup of coffee.
My main question would be why KSE isn't sinking money into this franchise like some of the others they own. I think if the US had promotion / relegation like they do in Europe, KSE would sink money into the Rapids like they do Arsenal. KSE would have something to lose. I truly believe with pro/rel in the US, the Rapids would be a juggernaut in MLS. Maybe I'm delusional, who knows.