Over the next few months, I’m hoping to interview some of the guys wearing Greenville on their chests, bringing you their stories in a series I call “The Matchelor” (No relation to The Bachelor TV shows, which are fully trademarked and owned by ABC. We’re not looking to get sued here at GVLSoccer.com!)
Dallas Jaye takes the field for the Greenville Triumph in goal, but the 25 year old’s journey to our fair city has taken a few stops, including internationally. I sat down with “Big D” this week to find out more about the man in net.
Tell us a little about your soccer journey, and how you ended up here in Greenville.
“I’m from California, born and raised in the Bay Area. I played soccer pretty casually growing up, but got pretty serious in high school. I was always a goalkeeper, since 7 or 8. I actually attended IMG Academy (where we had preseason this year) for the first two years of high school, so that’s where I was really honing in on soccer in a more serious sense, and wanting to play in college. I went through college recruiting; I had a good experience at IMG, made some good connections there, so I ended up back at the University of South Florida. For a couple of years, I played in the PDL for FC Tuscon during the summers. I was at USF for four years, graduated with a degree in Marketing, but did a redshirt season, so I was able to play a fifth year. I was looking at good MBA programs, while hoping to get some good exposure as well; the goal was to go pro after college. It was between Xavier or Penn State, and there was something about Xavier, it was a good fit and feel for what I was looking for in the year, so I ended up there in Cincinnati. I started my MBA, played my fifth year there, and kept taking classes afterward.
That year, FC Cincinnati started up, with Harkes as the coach. I was able to trial with FC Cincinnati, and Coach Harkes was the one to give me my first professional contract, which was cool. My goalkeeper coach at Xavier was hired by John to be his goalkeeper coach at FC Cincinnati, so there were a lot of connections that made it a good fit and a segue from college to the professional game for me. I spent 2 years at FC Cincinnati, and was with Phoenix Rising in the USL last year, which was an incredible experience as we made it to the USL Final. I also got to play with Didier Drogba in his last professional year. As global of an icon he is in soccer, and just in general, he’s just a down to earth guy in the locker room. But, for me professionally, all those stops, I wasn’t getting to contribute on the field as much as I would have liked as a younger goalkeeper. When the opportunity came in Greenville, especially with John running the show, everything I had heard about, it was a no brainer for me. It’s been a great experience so far.”
I know you also have experience at the international level.
“My mom’s family is from Guam, so that’s been a big piece of my career as well. I got involved with their youth national team when I was 16, playing with the U-19s, which, at the time, was kind of a crazy opportunity that I wasn’t sure would be long term…but I was able to get my first international cap when I was 18, in 2012. I’ve been fortunate to stay in the fold ever since. This is the first go-round where I’ve been one of the older, veteran players. They’ll be playing this summer, kind of a play in match for the World Cup, and if we advance, we will play 8 World Cup qualifiers over the next year and a half, which is a big opportunity for us. John was a national team player, and has always been supportive of it.”
Is it any different putting that crest on?
“It is. For me, it’s different because it’s more of a family thing; I’m representing my family. My grandmother, who is in her nineties, was born and raised on the island, and it’s through her lineage that I can play for Guam. She may not know a lot about soccer, but I always get little videos of her watching the games, and there’s something indescribable about that – another piece of soccer that I’m very fortunate to be able to do, outside the club game.”
Growing up, what is a skill you had to work most at?
“For me, because I started goalkeeping at a young age, there was a lot of honing those skills of diving, using your hands, making those saves, I neglected my feet a lot. A lot of younger kids rotated a lot of positions, but I stuck with goalie, so I was a late bloomer there. The game 10-15 years ago, that wasn’t as big, but now goalkeepers are so involved. That was something towards the end of high school that I had to improve on and get up to speed on. I’ve been fortunate to have coaches that have been patient with it while also pushing me, so that now I feel like it’s a part of my game that is an asset instead of a pitfall.”
Now that you’re in Greenville, what are some hidden gems you’ve discovered or enjoyed?
“I want to say I’ve been to a lot more places than I really have; I have a list of places I want to go. I’ve done a lot of the coffee shops, and I’m a big fan of a lot of them. The one we’ve taken to lately is The Village Grind. Food wise, this weekend, we took out of town friends to brunch at Tupelo Honey, and I really enjoyed that. They brought out the complimentary biscuits, and it was like chips and salsa for breakfast! I was loving it. We went to Willy Tacos and really enjoyed that, but there are a lot more places we need to go. Everywhere we’ve been has been good; a lot of good food and coffee. I want to go to Pretty Place, but it’s hard to go after training, and on the weekends, you wake up sore and want to just hang out. There’s still a lot to explore.”
Do you have any game day rituals?
“If we have any ritual, it’s on Friday nights: Paul, Aaron, Evan, and I have what we call ‘Family Dinner’ at our apartments. Each week, we rotate which apartment hosts and makes a meal for the other guys. It’s kind of nice, to unwind and have a good meal the night before a game. It’s funny; we won’t tell the other two what we’re making; we keep it a secret all week. We try to one up each other every week, not just with the meals. We went into their place one night and there was a seating arrangement at the table, all done up nicely with name cards-just fun stuff to blow off some steam.”
What are some songs you’re into right now?
“Gameday can be so serious, you want to be locked in, but you still want to get a laugh in before getting into the game. There’s a song we’ve been putting on: ‘Save Me Tonight’ by Arty has been a go-to lately. I’m into a bunch of stuff; on the way here, the sun was shining and I was listening to country. Whatever the mood calls for. I’ve been DJing the locker room lately. A good pump up song go-to by Eminem has been ‘Til I Collapse.’ We have such an eclectic group, you have to mix it up.”
Who’s your top level club?
“Everton is my favorite club to support. For me, I was a casual fan of the big clubs growing up, but once NBC got all the games, and you could pick pretty much what you wanted to watch, I kept finding myself wanting to watch Tim Howard. It kind of happened organically. It was cool. We got to play the Colorado Rapids last year in preseason with the Phoenix, and I got to meet him and talk to him about how I was an Evertonian from watching him play. Aaron Walker is a Liverpool fan though, so us as roommates, we butt heads on it.”
Who has the best logo in the league (besides the Triumph)?
“The league has done a very good job with them; Madison’s is out there, with the flamingo, but honestly, North Texas’s I like because I didn’t notice the subtle N and T in the logo until recently when I was watching film on them. But obviously, Triumph takes the number one spot!”
You’ve known some of the guys on the club for a while. Who do you think is your best looking teammate?
“I might make some people mad with this one. Evan has the best hair. I knew him when he had short hair, which was sharp, but I knew him in his awkward phase, and it was a rough period for him. So I give him all the credit in the world for getting through that. I’m gonna give it to Carlos Gomez, because he’s from Spain and has very good style. He’s got what Cole Seiler calls ‘fast hair,’ which, I still don’t know what that means, but Cole will walk in the locker room on days when Carlos styles it, and goes, ‘Carlos, you got some fast hair right now.’ He’s got that cultured look to him.”
The fans here in Greenville have a nickname for you. How do you feel about them calling you “Big D”?
“I think it’s hilarious. It’s always interesting at different clubs, things catch on. At FC Cincinnati it was ‘Jaye says nay,’ so when I finally got myself a game and made a save, I heard it eventually and felt like it was creative. The Big D is pretty funny. It’s got an intimidation factor to it, and it was cool how it happened. Anytime when it happens organically, which, with a new club, is how you want everything to start, it’s very cool.”
Now for a couple of fun questions: What Disney character are you?
“I’m gonna go with Maui, from Moana. I love that movie; having half my family being Pacific Islanders, and I know that was cool for that community. Also, The Rock is hilarious.”
Finally, if you could play for any team, past or present, who do you pick to play for or with?
“I think I’d have to pick two: either the Treble winning Manchester United team of 1999, just because it’s David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs. I’ve watched the documentary on them and I was so impressed with everything they did. I was young, so I didn’t appreciate it until afterwards. Something that I appreciated more at the time it happened was the 10-11 Barcelona team, with Chavi, Iniesta, Messi, and David Villa. The tiki taka. It would have been fun as a goalkeeper, just to sit back and watch them.”
Interview edited for clarity.
We at GVLSoccer would like to thank Dallas for taking the time to answer our questions! Who do you want to see interviewed next in “The Matchelor?” Let us know by tweeting Brittany or commenting on Facebook!