Ed. note: The following is a guest column from former Real Salt Lake Vice President of Communications Trey Fitz-Gerald. He has since moved on to a role at FC Pinzgau Saalfelden in Austria. He was at the club from the very beginning, and he’s sorely missed since his absence.
It is incredibly difficult to put into words just how to say goodbye - even if it probably isn’t forever - to Salt Lake, to Utah, to all the incredible people I’ve encountered there.
Nearly 15 years ago, Dave Checketts asked me to relocate from New York City to Utah - a place I had never before been, despite growing up in the Southwest and being very familiar with New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.
In October, 2004, I arrived on the Wasatch full of hope, enthusiasm and optimism, every day increasingly inspired by Dave’s vision for what Major League Soccer and what would soon be known as Real Salt Lake could mean to this community. While this spirit of “carrying the torch” for Dave’s vision never left me, my motivation every day was emboldened by what Utah and the Beehive State - and more importantly, what the people who composed this community - could mean for the growth and success of the sport of soccer in North America.
I’ve long joked about writing a book about the twists and turns of the early days of building the club, the rollercoaster ride to get Rio Tinto Stadium built, the incredible serendipity that formed and developed “The Team is the Star” ethos, the wondrous ride of that initial Champions League run, anecdotally describing the breathtaking highs and even the devastating lows of the last 15 years.
Still on the bucket list, when time permits.
There are simply too many people - hundreds of players, thousands of fans, numerous local journalists and politicians and business leaders and a vast number of co-workers to whom I will always be grateful for their time, commitment, belief, doubt and skepticism - for me to thank here.
But everyone should always please know that I have nothing but gratitude in my heart for every single person met or moment experienced in the last 15 years. I’ve learned so much, I’ve lived incredibly, and I realize how lucky I’ve been that my passion and my occupation intersected in a labor of love.
For this decade-and-a-half, Utah was my home, RSL was my family.
I’ll always bleed Claret-and-Cobalt. I’ll continue to cheer and yell at whatever screen I’m watching RSL, Utah Royals FC, or Real Monarchs compete on. I’ll always be available to help any player or coach or staffer or colleague navigate this incredible soccer world or even a changing media landscape. I *might* even tweet something that appears slightly inappropriate upon further review.
So now we are on to the next chapter, an exciting, daring, ambitious one; one I cannot wait for the world to discover. Even if I’m 5500 miles away, part of me will always be Salt Lake through-and-through.