Sunday, July 14, 2024
Sunday, July 14, 2024

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Intentionality, Gratitude, and Enjoying the Process

Photo: Atlanta United FC

NDZ: Thanks for joining me. My name’s Andrew also, and I figure I should give you some background on me, because I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about you today. I was around for the start of Forward Madison initially, helped get things started on the fan side for the first three years and took a step back this last fall. I grew up here, got a job in the IT sector in the city and stuck around. It means a ton to me as a football/soccer fan to have a club here, so I try to be as much a part of what’s going on around the club as I can. Something I did when the club was first getting started, and then again with more frequency over the past year or so has been trying to tell stories about players, about fans, about people that are somehow connected.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Dope. That’s dope.

NDZ: I certainly dig it. Anyway, I have some usual questions I like to ask, but give me a little background on who you are as a footballer / soccer player.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: I grew up in Bellingham, Massachusetts, and started playing soccer when I was four. My father is from Nigeria, and he moved to the states in the eighties. My mother is American and she lived in New England in her childhood, and her family ended up settling in Bellingham. So she’s been here for over 40 years now. I think when I was 10 or 11, I moved into playing with a club team. And then from there, when I first started getting to my teenage years, ODP (Olympic Development Program) was still a really big thing. After my first year of ODP is actually when USSF started the Development Academy, and I chose to stay with a non-Academy team and still play ODP all the way through high school.

I played for my high school team, Roxbury Latin School, which is a prep school in Boston, Massachusetts that actually required me to play sports. So that was also part of the decision making for me to not play for the Academy because if you play Academy soccer, you can’t play soccer for your high school.

NDZ: Is that like an eligibility thing, or?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: More of a time thing. I think they’re up to four or five days a week of training, now maybe probably five days a week. But when they started, I think it was maybe three or four, and the non-academy clubs used to take breaks in the fall season in this part of the country. I know different parts of the country soccer’s played in different seasons. I’m not sure where it’s played in Madison for high school soccer.

NDZ: Late summer through Halloween basically. It’s cold in the winter here.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: That makes sense. Non Academy teams used to take breaks in the fall so that kids could play with their high schools because that’s the American way to do things. And then the Academy system brought in a much more European style of development around the country as a whole. I played in my prep school, played club soccer, played ODP, and then I was fortunate to be at Roxbury Latin School. It’s a very high–achieving academic institution. So I was very grateful, fortunate to get an education from there. And then fortunate to go to Harvard, play soccer there, played for four years, came out with an economics degree on the school side of things and a couple minors. And then I got drafted in the beginning of the third round in the 2017 MLS draft. I went to Atlanta United, fortunately got signed during preseason and then stayed there for two years. Was really grateful to be there.

It’s certainly the most impactful soccer experience of my life in terms of development, learning, growth, just the experience as a whole, the players that I got to play with, the coaches that coached me. I look back on those years, certainly not with any reservations or disappointments of how things went, just really grateful to have had the opportunity to be there. After two years there, went to Arizona to sign with FC Tucson in League One. And then throughout the year I was repeatedly loaned up to Phoenix Rising. So I ended up playing games for both those teams throughout the year. From there I went to Sacramento Republic and played two years there, and now I’m coming to Madison in my sixth year a pro.

I look back on those [Atlanta United] years, certainly not with any reservations or disappointments of how things went, just really grateful to have had the opportunity to be there.

NDZ: It sounds like your experience at Atlanta United was an interesting one. You strike me as a very studious person, and someone that tries to glean and make the most of wherever it is they are in life. Obviously playing at the highest level of the game in this country, facilities are different, coaching staff’s different, all of the soccer adjacent stuff like physio staff, dietary specialists, sporting performance staff, all of that is different. From your perspective, what’s the most stark difference for good, bad or otherwise between second or third division and the MLS experience?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: One, I appreciate the studious compliment. I’ll take that as a compliment. Sure.

NDZ: Yeah, definitely.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: I appreciate that. For me, honestly, I think the MLS is… Well, at least then, I would say less so now, Championship and League One – having had the opportunity to play in both – there are some good players. The leagues are getting better and better every year, and I’m grateful to still be around and being able to see it, being able to be a part of it and compete in it. MLS, yeah, it’s a high standard for a quality of player. But for me the biggest thing is the habits of the players.

I experienced one team – and I’m fortunate to know guys who have played on different MLS teams and some who still play on MLS teams – but in my two years with all the players that I was able to interact with, from a player perspective, it’s that the majority of guys on MLS teams have above average to excellent habits. So whether they are the most skillful person, the best footballer or not, the work that they put in to prepare, to execute, that’s what keeps them at a level that they can sustain and be consistent at. And as you go down the leagues, that’s the biggest difference that I see. Again, yes, I think there is a skill drop off from the MLS to the second and third division. I think there’s really less of a skill drop off between the second and third divisions. But the biggest thing that continues to drop off as you go down, in my opinion, are the habits. The consistency of the habits.

in my two years with all the players that I was able to interact with, from a player perspective, it’s that the majority of guys on MLS teams have above average to excellent habits.

NDZ: Yeah. It’s interesting you mentioned habits, because it’s something I’ve heard multiple times now from players that have played between Championship and League One level, especially from senior-level players when they’re talking about trying to mentor younger guys. Things like helping them focus on preparation for a match instead of being distracted by social media; knowing what to prioritize, knowing what to put first and what’s important. 

Having watched a pretty decent amount of Championship and League One games last year in person, I agree the level of play doesn’t seem that much different. The production value of matches is different. Man-marking is probably a little closer and the pace slightly faster at times, but again, that probably comes back to habits, training, the situation some of these guys come out of, the level of coaching and attention they’ve had over the years, all of the above.

You’re the only player that the club’s announced so far this year who’s played for Matt before. So you obviously believe in him and his coaching ability and followed him to a different club. Being from Madison, and I love this town, but man, it’d be a hard sell for me to come from California to the upper Midwest, especially making that decision at the beginning of the winter months when things are starting to get really cold. So what was it that helped you make the decision to sign with Madison?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Well, I’ll speak first the Matt side. I got to work with him in Sacramento and I have a strong appreciation for his preparation and the work that he puts into coaching and preparing his team. He is very detail oriented and I appreciate that. And anytime I give compliments to people who are ahead of me, I always add a disclaimer, is that I’m 27, they’ve been around in this sport for a lot longer than I have. Whether it means anything or not. It is just my opinion and in my opinion, I think he’s an extremely intelligent soccer mind.

when [Matt] reached out to me about the team, I was really grateful that he held me in a high enough regard to even consider me playing for him.

And again, why I put that disclaimer is somebody could talk to me and be like, “oh, he’s an idiot, he doesn’t know anything about soccer.” I’m like, “alright, fair enough. That’s your opinion, whatever.” But from my opinion, I think he’s a very intelligent soccer mind. I really enjoyed having conversations with him about soccer when I was in Sacramento. But more than that, on the human side of things he certainly brings a level of focus to meetings, to training sessions, to preparation that again, I appreciate.

I love philosophy, read a lot of philosophy in my free time. It was a subject that I was one class away from getting a second minor in, in college. I’m grateful to have been able to continue educating myself on different philosophical topics since I’ve been a young adult. And at some point last year I ended up having a conversation with Matt about a couple of different philosophical topics. And it turns out he actually really loves philosophy too, and reads a lot of philosophy. So at that moment I was like, “oh yeah, this is a good dude. This will be fun. We can have good conversations.” So when he reached out to me about the team, I was really grateful that he held me in a high enough regard to even consider me playing for him.

teams that have great fan bases tend to do better. And people tend to enjoy themselves there a lot more.

And then in terms of the city — one thing I’ve observed frequently in every team I played on, even in college, but certainly as a professional — the teams that have great fan bases tend to do better. And people tend to enjoy themselves there a lot more. And also I grew up in a seasonally cold place. We got a blizzard last week, two feet of snow, big day. It’s good times, shoveling the driveway.

I went to college here. The cold doesn’t really bother me. I’ve been really fortunate that my pro career has been in Atlanta, Arizona, and California. So I’ve been a little spoiled in terms of good weather. But yeah, the support that the club has… When I played with Tucson, I went to Madison to play against Madison. Great atmosphere in the stadium, a lot of cool things that it seems that the team aligns itself with in the community. And I look forward to getting to understand and experience more of that this year. But yeah, the snow wasn’t a difficult thing for me. I was and am grateful that Matt thought about me and thought that I might be able to contribute to the team in a positive way. And then after that, it was all right, cool. Madison sounds like a cool spot.

I grew up in a seasonally cold place. We got a blizzard last week, two feet of snow, big day. It’s good times, shoveling the driveway.

NDZ: Yeah. It’s alright.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: And honestly, every single person that I’ve spoken to has been like, “oh, Madison is great. You’d be really surprised…” The go-to phrase that a lot of people have used is, “there’s a lot more happening for ‘Midwest city’ then you would think there would be.” And everyone I’ve asked who has visited or lived in Madison has said that. “Oh, you’re moving to Madison? It’s actually really nice.” I’m like, “that’s what people have been telling me. I know.”

NDZ: Yeah. I hope you like it. How much do you like to be involved on the community side of things? When you go to a new club, do you try to get invested in the community, get to know supporters, get to know people that live there, sink down roots as much as you can?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: If I’m being frank, the roots thing not so much only because of moving a lot is… I remember the first time I moved teams from Atlanta to Arizona and I had a roommate, one of my teammates in Atlanta, we had a nice apartment because rent was reasonable down there. And I remember moving to Tucson and the amount of stuff that I brought with me from my apartment in Atlanta… Because when I moved out of Atlanta after being there for two years, I moved all my stuff back to Massachusetts and rented a U-Haul. And then I didn’t bring a U-Haul truck to Arizona, but I drove my car out and packed it.

And I remember getting there and being like, “I have too much stuff. From this point on, I need to figure out a way to pack light.” So every year certainly I’ve brought less and less stuff understanding the reality of my business is that even if I do well, I might not be there next year. Whether it’s the club decision, my decision or any other factors. So on the roots side, not so much, but in the engagement side, I have a really strong passion for education. And any time those opportunities are presented to me to be able to have discussions or be in involved with things surrounding education for young people I get really excited about it and always look to be involved in them because I have very profound appreciation for what education’s done for me in my life.

And so if I’m able to convey that to other people, to young people, and let them understand an education isn’t just school, it’s how do you take the environment that’s around you and learn from it and not just exist in it and have some type of conscious effort and… Intentionality. Being intentional about the things that you’re putting in your life and that you’re putting around you. And for me, that’s what’s going to make you move forward in life. So from the community involvement aspect, that’s what I certainly… If anybody asked me to do anything, I’m usually pretty game because again, our profession, really fortunate. I get done with my work day at one o’clock. So I got time. But I think I proactively usually look for stuff that I can get involved with on the education side of things.

any time those opportunities are presented to me to be able to have discussions or be in involved with things surrounding education for young people I get really excited about it and always look to be involved in them because I have very profound appreciation for what education’s done for me in my life

NDZ: Madison’s an interesting town. It’s a city that claims very progressive politics but I would argue against that. There are still a fair amount of remnants of redlining and segregation in this city that a lot of people don’t talk about. It’s one of the things that fans tried to be intentional about in our first year, encouraging people to express themselves however they want to at games, making it a safe space for any and everybody to show up to, but also trying to make it a true cultural touchpoint, a true mosaic of different types of people. I think that’s why this club is such a great thing for this city.

And games at Breese Stevens on a Saturday night are one of the very few places where I’ve really seen that happen. And I’ve been in this city for 40 years. So it’s been cool to be able to see that. I guess it’s a smaller city with a big city feel. It’s a big college town, so during the summertime, a third of the population of the city is gone because all the students are back home. So you don’t have to wait in lines when you go to places, it’s great.

There are great bars and restaurants pretty much everywhere. If you live closer to downtown, pretty much everything is walkable. It’s pretty cool. But yeah, it’s still very much a city that’s growing and in flux and changing nonstop. And some of the old timers try to fight against it, but as somebody that grew up here, I really enjoy the way that the city’s evolved.

You talk about intentionality, you probably have some goals in mind for this season. What’s a goal or two for you, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, for this season playing for Madison?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Before I answer that question, just to respond to what you said, that’s the beautiful thing about soccer, isn’t it? People used to ask me about some of my takeaways from my time in Atlanta. When you’re not in the lineup, you still go to the games and you wear your team suit, you go up, sit in the team box. So you walk through the stadium and you see people… Big stadium, lots of fans. So it’s not like when you’re sitting you’re keying in on people, but when you walk through, you see a lot different faces and it was the coolest thing for me where you talk about this mosaic of people coming to enjoy an experience together in the same space.

And it was just like Atlanta was so cool with that, and soccer is so cool with that, because in Atlanta, you would see black rap stars, black American rap stars, you would see white American rancher, cowboy-looking people. They would literally walk in the stadium with a cowboy hat on and cowboy boots, a bolo tie. You see Latin American people. It was so cool to have all those different cultures in one space pushing for a common goal. And so for you to be able to say that about Madison, it’s not just Atlanta, that’s everywhere, but that’s everywhere with football because it’s such a global sport. When you go to any city, urban areas always going to be more diverse than non-urban areas. So it’s just, yeah, I have a fondness for that as you were talking about it. I was like, “oh yeah, that’s soccer.”

NDZ: Yeah, absolutely.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: To answer your question about my goal, so I think a long time ago I got some guidance and some mental coaching, all this stuff, and have tried to implement that in my life and be consistent with that and get better and grow with it every year as I get older. But yeah, I genuinely try not to like focus on outcome goals. And more so on process goals.

NDZ: I like that.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: My goal for the season is to come in and make sure that every day I’m positively impacting my teammates. I have a strong desire to make the people around me better and I don’t always claim to know exactly how to do that, but the way to start is by listening if I don’t have a clear idea, and then going from there. The way this game is played and the way you have to be in order to be successful at it — not to say that I’ve been successful at it — but if you want to be successful, you have to be able to assert yourself, your ideas, your personality, into the game.

But if you do that to the detriment to the people around you, then it’s futile. So yeah, that is my main goal, to make sure that I leave a positive impact every day when I come to training, every day when I’m around people at the organization and make sure that I’m pushing the group forward and not holding it back.

NDZ: You mentioned injecting part of your personality into your playing style into what’s going on the pitch. What parts of your personality do you try to put on display when you’re playing?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: One is certainly making people around me better. I think the best teammates — the best leaders — are the ones that get the most out of the people around them. I think that’s a really big quality that is often overlooked for anybody who is, I don’t want to say a high performer, but sometimes that quality itself is overlooked in people that could be considered better leaders than they are or better teammates than they are because you’re looking for the person who just has the most impact on with the ball on the team, not that that person can’t have an equal amount of impact on his teammates or her teammates, but it’s a quality that I feel is overlooked. And then I think the other big ones are relentlessness and communication.

I think the best teammates — the best leaders — are the ones that get the most out of the people around them.

Also, I love to run. I love to fight. I love to compete. Especially in the midfield, if you’re playing to me or if I’m in the back line and you’re a striker, you have to outwork me in order to get the better of me. I promise you I work hard. So you better be prepared to work hard if you want to surpass me. Some might be willing to work harder, but I’m going to demand that of my opponent because that is a non-negotiable for me.

NDZ: Outside of being a footballer, what does life look like for you? You talked a little bit about imparting education and wisdom and knowledge to younger people in general, but what kind of stuff do you get up to outside of sport?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: I love to read. I read a lot. As I said, I enjoy philosophy. I enjoy African American and African literature, literary fiction, American literary fiction. I’m always looking to gain from the things that I’m reading, and I’m not a big fantasy or fiction or sci-fi reader. Also those books tend to be really long and while I like to read, 600-700 pages is a little excessive for me. That’s a lot of words.

NDZ: I tried to read Infinite Jest one time and got like 20 pages into the book which had like 50 pages of footnotes and was like, “I’m done with this.”

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Yeah. And I’m sure it’s really interesting, but man.

NDZ: You can do a lot of cool tricks with contextual info, side stories, but having footnotes that also have footnotes?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Insane. Yeah. But yeah, so I enjoy reading, really, really passionate about music. When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an acapella group that I did in my last two years of college. We were R&B neo soul hip hop group.

NDZ: Who’d you style yourselves after or were you more just doing a little bit of everything?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: A little bit of everything. But the cool thing about it was I didn’t have any formal training in singing or anything like that. I learned so much about vocal chords as an instrument just by being around those people. I was so fortunate to be in that group and to be let in, because in my mind I was the worst singer in the group and I was constantly like, “thanks for having me here, guys.” Just some beautiful voices, some very impressive singing chops. And they taught me so much. I used annoy them with questions, I’m sure. I had a couple friends outside of that group that were also in acapella groups that I learned a lot from as well. So the technical aspect of singing, I had a really nice education on it in that year and a half. And even post-college, I spent a lot of time getting better at the piano.

Last year I started writing and making songs with one of my friends from my acapella group in college. My songs are below average. But her voice on them is amazing, so that’s the best part of them. I do a lot of the core construction and production side of things. And there’s room for improvement. But that’s the fun of it. It’s a process of getting better. So, yeah, I’d say reading and music are two things I’m really passionate about.

NDZ: I did a little bit of Google searching on you when you first got signed. And I saw I think it was a Christmas Carol type of thing that you did with some other Atlanta United players at the time. Anyway, it’s interesting to me that making music and the creative, iterative process around it has parallels to sport and the discipline that it takes to get better at something.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: You hit the nail on the head with that last statement in terms of the discipline it takes to get better at something. I have a very strong appreciation for the time that it takes to improve and to be good at something. And psychologically I’m okay with being mediocre for a long time in order to get to the other side of things. I’ve described it to people like that before, because oftentimes when somebody’s trying to learn a new skill, especially the older you get in life, when you meet resistance early, what you always do, because it’s a new skill, you don’t stick with it, because you’re like, “ah, it’s going to take too much time and I got too much other stuff going on in life. And honestly, I’m not very good at it.”

My first year of playing the piano… I knew I always wanted to play. I just knew I never had time. I graduated college, I flew back to Atlanta to continue my season, and the day after I flew back, I went to a music store, bought a keyboard because I knew I was just waiting for a time when I was going to have more time. I bought the keyboard and for the first year I learned how to play three songs. When I told people, “oh yeah, I play the piano.” I could play three songs. So I played the three songs over and over again every day. But for 45 minutes to an hour a day, all I did was scales. The most boring crap in the world. And that’s all I could do and I studied the circle of fifths a lot because I learned it when I was in eighth grade and had no idea what it meant. And then when I relearned it, I was like, “man, I wish I knew what this meant seven, eight years ago. It would’ve been great.”

I was really dedicated to building a strong foundation and that’s what you need to do for any new skill. I feel like that’s critically important. Some things come naturally to people, and for those people that’s amazing. I would say that soccer certainly came naturally to me at a young age, athletics did in general. I love sports and I was blessed with a fairly mobile body. But other than that, not a lot of things have come naturally to me in life. So if someone actually wants to be good at something, like you said, it takes the discipline to improve and to succeed. There are a lot of parallels between sports and anything else that takes a certain level of skill.

NDZ: It’s easy just to quit when you’re not great at something right away. And you have to almost enjoy the process of being bad at something for a while. There’s this great quote by Ira glass about outcomes vs taste I really like:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

– Ira Glass

Speaking of — you talked about liking to read and loving music, I’ve got three standard questions that I ask every person that I talk to. What’s your favorite film, the last song that you listened to, and the last book that you read?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Favorite film is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows with Robert Downey Jr. A huge fan. Really, both Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downey Jr. but Game of Shadows is maybe a little better. The last song was an afrobeat song by this artist called Olamidé and it’s called Greenlight. And I think that was the last song I remember before I dozed off into dream world last night.

And then the last book I read, I’m currently reading a book about the history of Okinawa. I have a really good friend who is part Japanese and her grandmother and mother actually are from Okinawa. It’s actually a longer book than I’m used to reading, like 550 pages. I was like, if I read that with her, she’ll read a book about Nigerian history with me, so it was a give and take. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. That’s what I’m reading right now.

NDZ: Do you listen to a lot of afrobeat? I know I’ve heard Olamidé before, I didn’t realize he was from Nigeria. Do you get into more of your dad’s side of your ancestry and history?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Yeah, very much so. I have read a lot of Nigerian literary fiction. My favorite writers are Nigerian and then there’s a Ghanaian author as well that I really enjoy her writing. And yeah, I love afrobeats and Nigerian music. There was a group called P-Square that I grew up listening to a lot. And then Burna Boy’s album African Giant in the summer of 2019 started bringing afrobeats into the forefront of the Western music scene.

Before that, probably in 2018 with Drake. I think it was Views, but he started outsourcing some of his production to these afrobeat producers and he started to mix these Caribbean style beats and the Afro beats with his music and anything Drake touches gets popular. So I think that was a way of him, one, experimenting with his own artistry, but also giving some platform to a sound that he probably appreciates in a great way and hoping that it becomes more mainstream and it certainly has. So yeah, I’m really big into… R&B and neo-soul are my “I could not live without them” genres. And then afrobeats are right next to it.

NDZ: I’ve been like on a major neo-soul kick the last couple years and I don’t don’t know if you’ve heard the new Lady Wray and the new Amber Mark albums that came out last week, but they’re-

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: I can’t say I have.

NDZ: Check out Lady Wray. She’s from Virginia originally. It’s W-R-A-Y. She’s on this label Big Crown. And they play more of that New York sound, kinda like Menahan Street Band.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: I like that. Yeah. I’m definitely going to check that out today.

NDZ: The other one I was going to say because you mentioned 2019 being a big year for afrobeat. And I don’t know if you listened to Jidenna at all, but that was the album I listened to a lot that summer. He’s actually from Wisconsin originally. His dad’s Nigerian, and he was born in Wisconsin Rapids, which is like smack-dab in the middle of the state.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Okay. Yeah, big fan of Jidenna. He grew up mostly in Massachusetts. And he went to a prep school called Milton Academy, which was in my league in high school so I’ve been to the school plenty of times. It was actually one of the schools I looked at before choosing to go to Roxbury Latin. So yeah, when I’m hearing him rap about some… Some of his lines, I know what he’s talking about, and obviously he’ll say things that touch on his Nigerian heritage as well. And it resonates similarly with me. So, yeah. That’s cool. Yeah. Big fan of Jidenna.

NDZ: That 85 to Africa album… The first ever Forward Madison league game, April 2019, I think we listened to that record five or six times on the way down to Chattanooga. That was our 2019 in a nutshell. If I would’ve had that record on wax back then, then I probably would’ve worn it out.

We should probably round out the interview with a bigger question. What do you want fans of Madison to know about you, what you’re about? We talked about what you like to do outside of soccer, but what’s the one thing that you want people to take away, to get to know Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu?

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: I’m very hard worker. I’m quite a serious person about my work. I certainly enjoy a laugh and I really enjoy laughing and having a good time, but I take my work really seriously. I’m better now, I used to take my life way too seriously, but it helped, it got me to good places, but I’m also glad I’ve calmed down a little bit. The intentionality thing is the biggest part for me. I’m very intentional about what I do and I care deeply about being present in the moment.

And so if you meet me and you have a conversation with me, feel free to criticize me if you don’t think that I’m present, because it’s something that I make sure that I constantly check with myself in conversations after conversations — did I make sure that I was present that whole time I was interacting with someone — because interactions are what drives us forward, move the world around, and all those cliches. Even though people might say it’s money, I think it’s more human to human interaction. So yeah, I love having conversations with people and everything is based on the principle of working hard.

NDZ: Sweet man. Well, Andrew, I really appreciate you taking this time with me this morning. Hopefully we get more chances to talk as the season goes on. I know you got to report to practice in about a week and a half, two weeks, something like that.

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: Yeah. A week and a half.

NDZ: Maybe once after you’ve settled in and it starts to warm up a little bit and we don’t have to worry about passing COVID around and all that, I know we’ll try to have a couple of barbecues before the season actually starts and invite all the players out and just hang out and get to know each other and have a good time. I’ll make sure that Matt gets all that info and now that I have your contact info, I’ll make sure you get invites for it as well.

Andrew Wheeler-Ominiu: Awesome. Thank you.


  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.


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