Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Neil Hlavaty: Making His Mark

Below is an unabridged interview with FMFC Head Assistant Coach Neil Hlavaty, edited slightly for grammar/spelling/accuracy. We’d like to thank Neil for his time. If you’re a Patreon subscriber ($5/mo), you can listen to the interview audio in full.


Andrew: She’s ever present. And so-

Grant: There she is Andrew. She’s right there for you.

Andrew: The Zoom lady. All right.

Grant: Neil, so you know Andrew has a thing for the Zoom lady.

Neil: Wow. I mean, can you change the voice? Or is that who she is?

Andrew: That’s-

Grant: It’s what we get. It’s what we get, man.

Neil: We’re not complaining, are we?

Andrew: No, no.

Grant: Well, he’s not.

Andrew: She means business, and that’s it. We’re here with Neil Hlavaty. Hopefully, I’m saying that right. I don’t speak Polish necessarily.

Neil: Last name’s Czech. Mother is Polish, hers is easy, Jablonsky.

Andrew: That is easier. I mean, did I say it right?

Neil: People say it different in America than they do there, but basically, it’s two words in Czech, Hlava and Ty, and then you combine them Hlavaty.

[Editor’s note: hlavaty (one word) in Czech is a nickname for someone with a large head (source). Neil’s head is by all regards fairly normally-sized.]

Andrew: Well, now I know how to say it, Hlavaty

Grant: Hlavaty.

Neil: Yeah. Slur the H with the L have some fun with it, end it with T-Y

Grant: Hlavaty.

Andrew: That was great. We’re here with assistant coach for Forward Madison Football Club, Neil Hlavaty.

Neil: Ooh, got it.

Andrew: Nailed it. Neil, for those of our readers or the folks that might be listening to this, because we share our audio with folks that help support what we’re doing, for those folks that don’t know you, don’t know your history. You were a bit of a lower league soccer journeyman before your coaching days. Can you describe a bit of your story as a player? And how that led to your coaching role?

Neil: I’m going to make that long story, a little shorter, because that’s a couple sessions right there. We could do a book on that one, but, yeah.

Grant: Are you saying you’re the Crash Davis of lower league soccer?

Neil: No, no. It is been longstanding of a lot of the second iteration NASL guys that we really want to put a short story book together of just everything that happened, and kind of that period of USSF D2 to NASL to USL, to USL League One, all of it. We wouldn’t mention names, but it’d be fun.

Born and raised right outside of Chicago in the suburbs, played soccer from an early age, knew early on I wanted to be a pro. Again, this is the short version, went to Boston University, in the college days. Left there early to pursue the dream of playing. The dream ended up at what was then USL League Two, at Cleveland City Stars under Martin Rennie, which is, he’s been about in the US soccer landscapes. And then kind of took off from there. Went to Europe for a few years, went to Sweden. Before college went to the Czech Republic, ended up in Poland, and then kind of my US journey began after coming home from Poland, not being paid for a few months, ended up in Minnesota.

And then the NASL journey began from there with Minnesota to Edmonton, to the then Carolina RailHawks to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, rest in peace as well, to the Richmond Kickers. And it was kind of in that time, I had a long off time between Fort Lauderdale and Richmond, dealing with a bad hip surgery, that I started to think about other sides of it. And it was in that time, especially playing in Richmond, where I got to enjoy my last year, not a successful year on the field, but got to really enjoy the last time around, knowing it was going to be that time. And just start to think about what was ahead in the future, where I knew it was going to be soccer related, but in what scope, I didn’t know yet.

Grant: I think what I’m going to do is I’m going to dovetail off of that. So Neil, what was it like when you have that moment where you know this is it, this is the last run? Had you been thinking about it for years leading up to it? Or was it just like one of those things where you were just doing something and you’re just like, “No, this is it. This is it”?

Neil: I was always a player that had the mindset of no matter how much money I make, I’m going to keep playing until I can’t. And there’s still guys like that that grind it out in the lower leagues that, I always felt like, no matter how much money I do or don’t make, how much I do deserve to make more than we are. This is what soccer in America is right now. And no matter if I’m 28 or 32 or 35, that to me all felt the same. I didn’t feel like I was behind in life ever. I feel like as much as I could get out of soccer, I was going to get, playing wise. And whenever that moment came, I knew the reality of it would be tough, but I was going to handle it from there, and whatever it brought, it brought.

And luckily I didn’t have to have an in between period, which a lot of guys have to deal with. So I consider myself very lucky that I didn’t have a long in between, between playing and another job, whether it’s coaching or anything else. Because it can get difficult outside of playing, when you don’t know what you want to do next or you’re searching for it. And you can bop from one thing to the next. That’s difficult for a lot of people out of school, from one occupation to the next. It’s not just athletes.

Andrew: So I mentioned this earlier. I mean outside of Jim Launder, who was also on the first season, you stuck around the start, this is your fourth season with Forward Madison. Why Madison? Why stick around here? I mean, you’ve probably had other offers. You’ve probably had the ability to kind of move around, maybe somewhere with better weather. Why stick around here?

Neil: The weather is what it is. I mean I grew up in the Midwest, so I’m aware of it. I get out on vacation for a few weeks every winter, and live the dream under the sun. But I mean, Madison provided me my first job outside of playing, and I’m always grateful for that. Grateful to Daryl that he gave me that opportunity.

Why I stick around is a number of reasons. There’s always, I don’t say there’s always opportunities to leave, but in this business, if you’re not staying aware of what is open and what jobs are available, you’re not doing yourself any good. Because it’s a firing culture right now, in most places, and that’s just the reality of the business. So to be here for, now, my fourth year is something I’m very proud of, that I’ve lived on through that through now three coaches.

“The city of Madison and the club gave me my first job, and that needs to be paid back in some fashion.”

I had no idea how that would go. Every off season that we’ve had of firing, is an opportunity to go elsewhere, but an opportunity to finish a goal I’ve had here of trying to win something, and that hasn’t happened yet. And that’s a large reason why I’m still here. The city of Madison and the club gave me my first job, and that needs to be paid back in some fashion. And so that’s still a goal of mine. And whether I leave this city and this club with a trophy or not is yet to be determined, but the amount I’ve learned every year from year one to now, I think has prepared me to give something more every year, to give the team something more, to give the players, the club a greater chance at that.

And although we may not have seen that in stats or where we finish in the table, the personal growth I’ve seen, and I’m not going to be selfish about it, but the personal growth I’ve seen in myself, I’m very proud of. And that continues on. And this year, I think we have a phenomenal coaching staff between Matt, me, JP, and Jim. I’m very, very happy to work with these guys every day.

Grant: You touched on it, let’s talk a little bit about it. How have you grown as both a coach and a person over the past four years?

Neil: Well, there’s a lot of players that say they want to be coaches, and I’ll tell the exact truth, you have no idea what you’re getting into when you’re a player and you get into coaching. You think it’s this, show up an hour before training, plan it, talk about it for an hour after, and go home and do it again. And every coaching staff has their style, but the hours you put in as a coach are nothing like the hours you put in as a player. It’s something that the players care and they always will, but the things that live with you every day and the things you remember about every game and scenarios and every match, you lose sleep over it.

You think about it every day. You talk about it every day. It’s something that fans say in Europe of, “You lose on Saturday or Sunday, it sticks with you the whole week.” For a coach, it’s hell, it’s absolute hell, when you lose. And no matter if it’s three in a row that you’ve lost or one. It’s the same feeling for me every time. It doesn’t feel good. And sometimes it affects those around you, which is the hard part of it. And sometimes it affects the relationships in the club. And so for me, one of the biggest things I’ve learned, no matter if you win or lose, stay at the same point, don’t get high, don’t get low, stay in the exact same place.

“at the end of the year, I’m hopefully going to be healthy. I’m hopefully going to have a job. I’m going to have my relationships off the field. And in reality, a lot of those things are bigger than winning or losing.”

It’s cliche to say everything’s going to be okay, but no matter what, at the end of the year, I’m hopefully going to be healthy. I’m hopefully going to have a job. I’m going to have my relationships off the field. And in reality, a lot of those things are bigger than winning or losing. So it’s going to hurt like hell when it happens, but as long as you can stay even, you’re going to be okay.

Grant: Even steer, all right.

Neil: And then outside of that, learning under three coaches has helped me immensely. All three have had different styles. All three have had different philosophies on football, how we train, how we analyze, how we scout. And in that, I’ve developed my own ways, and grown as a coach within that of my scouting network is now bigger, individually. Going through Daryl with lots of MLS experience, going through Carl with international experience, going through, now, Matt with championship MLS, JP, MLS, USL, Jim, Jim knows everyone. So we’re growing our networks. We’re growing our recruiting. The amount of players and agents that I now have in contact from year one to now is night and day. We can call anyone at any time. I have this by my side at all times, it can’t leave me. My… yeah. Kristen’s-

Grant: I’m sure. We already know. We already know she’s looking at you and just shaking her head, so it’s fine. And, hello, Kristen, how are you?

Kristen: [off screen] I’m well. How are you?

[All laugh]

Andrew: I’ll piggyback on that. What’s the most impactful… I mean, obviously, it’s probably going to be tough. If you think back across the last three years, what’s one major takeaway from each of the Forward Madison Head coaches?

Neil: One major. One will never do all of them justice, but I’ll always remember and took from Daryl a lot of man management, of having the ability to make hard conversations easy, and doing that with situations where stuff happens off the field or continual bad play happens or behavior issues, and no matter what, it doesn’t have to be a stern yelling or coming down on someone. How to be, again, even, how to be level-toned with a player, and just be person-to-person with them. And that was something that Daryl would allow me to come in on pretty much every conversation, head coaches will often take players on their own, and that’ll always happen.

But Daryl knew I wanted to learn and he let me in on almost everything, and those individual conversations or small groups, Daryl had a way of getting a guy to tell the truth, when he didn’t want to. Because players will be selfish sometimes, players won’t want to admit to things, but Daryl had a way of getting things out of guys. But not in the way of threatening them or not in the way of not playing them, just being a person. And so that’s something I take in a lot of conversations, now.

Carl, Carl got me to think about football in a way I never have, in terms of tactics, in terms of philosophy, and in a way I’ve never looked at it. I’ve never been over a tactical board as much in my life as I was with Carl. And now when I watch games and analyze and look at opponents 10 minutes into a game, I have a greater ability to break a team down, in a quicker amount of time. To scout a team and say, “Yeah, we don’t need 30 clips on this team. Here’s three clips. Here’s what they do. It’s not a secret.”

And before, first year, I didn’t have that. I would watch videos longer than I had to. And you got to be efficient with your time as a coach, very efficient or else, and I still do it, I’m waking up at 5:00 AM, 4:30 AM to go into the office to get shit done before. And even though that still happens, I can do it efficiently now.

So Carl, we had a lot of long talks and chats and just discussing football, and it wasn’t even having to do with what we were going to do sometimes, just what’s going on in the world. What is Jürgen Klopp doing? What is happening in Portugal? What’s happening in south America? And to be able to talk to someone like that, with years of experience, it’s great, because there’s not a lot of people that have that kind of knowledge. And so now I have an ability to look at the game, which I’m still learning in just a new way. And that’s helped me a ton this year.

“Matt’s passion and work ethic of what he brings every day, and what he brings and what he wants out of the staff is something I’ve always wanted.”

And Matt, will get to Matt after the year. But I absolutely love working with Matt. We have a very, somewhat similar fiery personality. Having him close in age to me is something that I love, that we think about our careers in the same way, that we think about players a lot in the same way. We both played in the NASL, so we both kind of were in the same path as a player. But in general, Matt’s passion and work ethic of what he brings every day, and what he brings and what he wants out of the staff is something I’ve always wanted. And it’s something I’ve always done.

So the amount of sheer work and preparation we do, I fucking love. It’s awesome. I fucking love how much we do and how much we think about it and how much we worry about… We don’t necessarily give it all to the players, but we’re going to be prepared, and that’s amazing. And more to come on Matt, because our relationship’s just begun.

Andrew: Cool. Yeah. I mean, that was, when we talked with Eric earlier, even before the season started, that was one of the things he touched on multiple times, was the amount of preparation and work that the coaching staff puts in this year, especially. And how the guys feel like they have to repay that.

Grant: And even to that point, too, Andrew, I mean, when we talked to Matt, one of the things he talked about was how much he thoroughly enjoys just working with his staff, and just being in the office talking soccer, and just going through the steps of the weekly process of getting ready for a game. Which is, I think, a really important piece, putting the staff together.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Grant: So how’s the team shifted tactically from this year to last? And is this tactic shift different from years past?

Neil: Definitely. I mean, you could say we’re formationally, this year to the end of last year, looking similar in certain ways, three in the back, that’s about where that stops. So last year was more of three, five, two, this year, we’re looking more three, four, three-ish. It’s been tough, I don’t want to say tough, and this isn’t an excuse, but the team we recruited has never seen the field yet. And so what we work so hard for, in terms of our player profiles, to meet what we want to put out there, you haven’t seen our 11 yet. And so every week, through bad luck, through whatever it is, we’re seeing injuries. We’re seeing guys get sick. We’re getting closer to it, by the way. We’re getting a lot closer, which is great news.

“the hard part is you still need to give that group time, because the group’s never seen it together. And so we haven’t had one starting lineup the same this year. In saying that, we’ve never had a closer locker room.”

Have Derek back in full this week, Andrew back in full this week, so two huge pieces, getting Abdou back in there, so we’re closer. And we’re closer to seeing what we want in the actions of all our positions. But the hard part is you still need to give that group time, because the group’s never seen it together. And so we haven’t had one starting lineup the same this year. In saying that, we’ve never had a closer locker room. So that’s one positive we’ve took every week, and something that has to concern every coach, of how’s the locker room doing? How’s the comradery? What’s the spirit in the group? Are they down? Are they still going to fight? Are they fighting for each other? Do they believe? And that’s not gone at all.

So we’re six games in and it shouldn’t be, but it happens. So that alleviates a lot of concern for the staff. Tactically, Matt and the staff are, we’re a little more specific in what we want than in years past. We’re a little more cued in, and not that it’s complex or very layered and specific, but we know what we want. And the few things that we want, we ask for every time. And so that, for us, is a way to analyze games, to say, “If we’re not getting this right, this is why, because we haven’t done this. If this isn’t right, this is why.” And it’s not a list of 20 things. It’s a list of sometimes less than six things we’re looking to accomplish in a game, sometimes three. “Hey, let’s do these three things really well in the game, we’ll have a greater chance to win.”

So that was something I loved about Matt, when he interviewed, his game model, the simplicity to it, but with specifics. And he knew what he wanted. And that, for me, helped me want to be a part of it. Just him knowing exactly what he wanted.

Andrew: Sweet. We’re talking about the team, we talked about tactics. What’s life like for Neil outside of football, now? Your life circumstances have changed, I think, a lot since season one. So what’s life like outside? What are you up to these days outside of football?

Neil: I’m engaged, which is great. Got a new apartment this year moved off of Willy Street, more downtown. No offense to Willy Street, but I feel like more of an adult. It’s fantastic. I’m right next to a lake. But generally, again, it’s long hours. So it’s getting into the office at 7:00 and most days I’m not home before 5:00. So you come home and you spend as much time with your loved ones as you can. And for me, the period when I come home, besides maybe when there’s a League One game on, which is right now, and I’m pissed off at myself for not watching it, because it’s fucking Charlotte, all of the time I have at home is spent with Kristen and friends.

“We spend too much time at work to not devote the rest of ourselves to what really matters.”

I’m a guy that will come home and as much as possible forget work. And if I have to get up at 5:00 AM, I get up at 5:00 AM or 4:00 AM and work. But when I leave work, it’s done. Of course, if Matt calls me with an issue, anyone calls me, it happens, but we spend too much time on the road. We spend too much time at work to not devote the rest of ourselves to what really matters.

Outside of that. I love golf. I retired from the game of playing. I need somewhere else to put my competitiveness into. I need somewhere to focus into outside of it. And luckily, for me, Kristin loves golf as well. And so we’re competitive against each other, which helps. And it helps me stay outside, get outdoors, get my hip moving. So soccer, family, friends, loved ones, and golf, outside of that, play some records, listen to some music. Me and Kristen like to cook, so that’s pretty much life. Go on some bike rides from time to time, went to Olbrich Garden the other day.

Grant: Did you guys go and see the corpse flower when it was there?

Neil: Kristen said she forgot. I knew nothing about it, but I enjoyed the beer.

Grant: Hey, all right. All right.

Andrew: So who usually wins on the golf course between the two of you?

Neil: If we like actually played like by our handicaps, it would always be close, but like straight up, I’ll admit to defeat as it’s happened twice, I think. And she’s celebrating over here. It’s happened. It can definitely happen. She’s pretty good. When I’m off, I’m really off. But when I’m on, there’s no chance she touches me, and I’m not one to let someone win.

Kristen: I’ve only been playing for three-

Neil: She’s only been playing for three years. But it’s always good fun, and for me it’s a way to-

Grant: How many years have you been playing Neil?

Kristen: Yeah, thank you.

Neil: I mean, my dad put sticks in my hand when I was like four. It’s been a while. It’s been a while-

Grant: All right, all right.

Neil: And then Daryl had a love for golf, so Daryl got me back into it.

Grant: So you mentioned dad, so we’re going to get the whole role model stuff now. Did you have a role model as a player? And do you have one now as a coach? And outside of soccer, who would be a role model for you, general life stuff?

Neil: I never really had… The word role model for me is tough. But as someone that I just generally looked up to as a player of qualities that I respected, qualities that I wanted to be like, I’m a United fan, so it was always Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, every day of the week. And they’re not the same player, but Roy Keane, I mean, can I swear?

Grant: Yeah, of course. Fuck, yeah.

Neil: Roy Keane was a c*nt, and everyone knew it. And he was, probably for me, the best captain in United history, modern era. You can go back and there’s good ones as well, before I was born. But he had an ability to be himself and still get the best out of others. Where you can say, “You may not like me, but you’ll fucking respect me.” And if you go back and ask a lot of my teammates, they probably didn’t like me. And I know a lot of them didn’t like me. And they didn’t like me on the field, but when we’d go and have a good time off it, they’d be fine. But they knew I’d cover every blade of grass for them. They knew I’d tackle for them. They knew I’d run for them. And I took that from Roy all the time.

And then Paul, he could do anything. And that was crazy for me that this five, seven, English midfielder could run the Premier League. And to get the kind of respect he did from other players in the Premier League, was always fascinating to me that they respected it too. I’ll put Patrick Vieira maybe on his level for Arsenal fans, because he ran the show as well. And that was an era of football that was for me, probably one of my favorite eras, early 2000s. But those two guys, I really tried to emulate a lot of their stuff. A lot of VHS tapes of Manchester United.

Andrew: What about as a coach?

Neil: As a coach, that’s a tougher one, because when I was playing and never looked at coaches. Fergie was the guy, and I read all of the Fergie books. And he had a demeanor in how he demanded his locker room, and how he demanded behavior. And a lot of that stuff can’t necessarily happen these days. It’s tough for it to happen, based on players’ upbringings, what they’re provided in academies. It’s tougher. It’s a new world for players that none of us have seen, and we’re all still learning.

But as a coach and now reading more about other coaches, a few of my favorites are Simeone, and if you haven’t watched the documentary, I think, it’s on Netflix, it’s probably my favorite soccer documentary ever, now. It lets you into not only his soccer, but his life and he’s very open. And that for me was a game changer. I’ve never seen access to a coach like that. We’ve seen like the Manchester City documentaries, the Sunderland stuff, but to have it be about a coach was different for me, now as a coach, to see that insight, to see the hours, to see his relationship with his wife, with his children, with his family, is a different kind of insight I’ve never seen. So for him, if you watch it, you really see how he wants his teams to play like his personality and he demands it. And if he’s not at a club that will allow that, he’ll leave.

Andrew: That’s that’s the Amazon series, Living Match by Match?

Neil: Yes. That one. That’s a great one. So I’d say as of now old school Fergie, new age Cholo Simeone.

Grant: So what about general, in life, who would be a role model or somebody you look up to?

Neil: Someone I look up to will be my sister, always. Two different complete lifes. She played some sports in high school, but was a teacher. I don’t want to say went the more normal route, but like everything else is normal, besides playing pro sports to me. It’s a weird one,.but she has two kids now, a husband, tutors on the side. To see her at home, run a household, be the mother of two kids, be a great wife, remind me of every birthday in our family, so I can send a card every time, because I’m horrible at it. Send my mom flowers on Mother’s Day and be like, “Hey, do you want to split it?’ “Yes. Thank you.” She’s actually coming to the game this weekend with her husband and two kids, which my sister has never been to a game, so it’ll be great to have them in town.

But to see someone be really happy in a life like that, of something that I’ve always wanted, but had to put on hold for longer, maybe because of a sport, is just something that I respect a ton. That she has everything she wants, maybe she wants more, but she’s so happy. And to have someone like that in your family to deal with a lot, to deal with, we complain about things all the time as players and coaches.

But in reality, like, yeah, our life is tough, but it’s not that tough. It’s not raising two kids. It’s not dealing with a husband that travels, sometimes. It’s driving kids to practice, and all this, that’s a whole other level for me that, if I can get close to that, awesome. But I don’t know that I will. So that would be the kind of outside of a coach reality, definitely, my sister. Don’t make me cry guys, come on.

Andrew: It’s all good. We got two more, well, four more questions really, but two more, really. Second to last one, hopefully this doesn’t make you cry, but what do you want your legacy to be as a coach? When you hang up your clipboard, you’re done putting cones out, what do you want to be remembered for?

Neil: In the beginning, probably, if this was year one, I would say, trophies. I would say, winning, in a heartbeat. And it’s something I still will always want. But as the years, and I act like it’s a long time, but now in the fourth year, as I look at it, I don’t want to say the only, but the highest priority for me is relationships, is making an impact on a player’s life. Whether it’s helping him in his career or helping him after his career, or helping him make a decision about something. Trusting, having that player trust me to have a conversation about some… whether it’s soccer or life, I hope it’s about life, to have that trust from a player is fantastic.

Then to have a guy to stay in touch with him, to have players that have left this club, and I still keep in touch with, and go on with career advice or just to say, “Hey, good luck tonight.” “Hey, I saw you last week, great game.” To have those, means more than anything and winning. To know that someone still cares about you and I care about them, that’s all it is. That’s coaching.

Grant: Yeah. Neil, for me, being a teacher, it’s the same thing. I have students that, from my first year of teaching that are now in their late 20s, that still call me for advice, which is awesome, which is exactly what I wanted. I’m sure you feel this way as a coach, it’s like, I might be your teacher or your coach for only a year, but I’m really, I’m there for the rest of your life.

Neil: Right. The feeling you get when someone, a player reaches out to you, when they haven’t maybe in, no matter what time it is, six months, a year, and it’s like-

Grant: Yeah, it doesn’t matter. Does it?

Neil: … “Hey, what’s up?” Aaron Molloy, before last game was like, “Hey, Neil, best of luck tonight.” And me and Aaron chat, but we probably haven’t in like a couple months. And he’s like, “Best of luck tonight to you and the guys. I’ll be watching blah, blah, blah.” And then we texted after the match about how it was, what he saw? And those things are valuable.

Grant: That’s the good stuff. All right, so I get the fun question to end things. Of course, I do.

Neil: You’re the fun guy.

Grant: I’m serious, it really is a fun question. So you mentioned playing some records, you know Andrew and I are very keen on records as well. What music or record is currently in your heavy rotation right now? What is your favorite film and why? And what’s the last book you read, and did you like it? Because like I just read a book and I got to admit, I didn’t really like it. I got done with it and I was just like, I’m like, “This was a waste.”

Neil: Okay. The book, because I was just reminded of it real quickly, was Atomic Habits, but that was a little while ago. Recently JP put Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen, autobiography on my desk, so that’s up next. JP is a huge Bruce fan.

Grant: I’m shocked. I’m shocked by that.

Neil: Jersey guy, loving Bruce. And I have a bunch of Bruce records I’m looking at right now. What was the second one? We’ll go to the vinyl last.

Grant: Second one was what’s your favorite film and why?

Neil: Fuck, that’s tough. I love a good series, especially like teen drama, and just some to take my mind off stuff, but-

Grant: Which you can absolutely… That can qualify, if that’s what you want to say.

Neil: No, that’s not a film. I’m trying to think of like, oh – easy, easy Good Will Hunting.

Grant: Okay. I was going to say, I’m like, think about this-

Neil: Easy.

Grant: … you’re flipping through the television channels and this movie is on, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, you’re going to stop and watch it no matter where it’s at.

Neil: See, this is an interesting one, because when we go on the road, and for the most part, JP’s my roommate, and although he could be my dad, we have the same thing. When a movie comes on, and it’s like a classic, we don’t turn it off. So last road trip, Beverly Hills Cop was on and we-

Grant: Oh, great.

Neil: The whole thing. The whole thing.

Grant: But Good Will Hunting’s a great choice by the way. That’s one of my favorites too.

Neil: Good Will Hunting hits a lot of different… I mean it’s all over the shop.

Grant: So, Neil, I think you know this, but I’m a case manager for emotional and behavioral students, so obviously that movie is going to check some boxes for me.

Neil: For sure. No, it’s… I think they took it off of Netflix, actually. Or they had-

Grant: I know.

Neil: … and they hadn’t, it was a really disappointing day for me, because that was always just like a go-to, easy one to watch.

Grant: Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? All right, but-

Neil: Some of it does, some of it doesn’t.

Grant: Yeah, right. The ending makes it feel good. The big one is, what music is currently on the heavy rotation? Or is there a vinyl record that you’re playing more often than any other right now?

Neil: I got to stand up to see what’s on there. Is there something on there? Oh, yeah. Okay. So on right now is Chris Stapleton, Traveller.

Grant: Okay.

Neil: Love Chris Stapleton, anything with kind of Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, it’ll be played heavy and hard. The latest pickup was Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend.

Grant: Yeah. That’s great. I’ve got that one too.

Neil: And then kind of the other one that gets played a lot, there’s a Bonnie Raitt album that I keep going back to.

Grant: Which one? I love Bonnie Raitt.

Neil: It’s fucking so torn up.

Grant: Is it? So her big one was Luck of the Draw.

Neil: No, it’s not Luck of Draw.

Grant: Or is it one of the earlier ones?

Neil: It’s earlier?

Grant: Like Streetlights.

Neil: This was like a dollar bin find I found my first year in Madison.

Grant: Like Streetlight or something like that, one of those.

Neil: Oh, fuck, which one is it? It plays so well too. It’s on the right side.

Kristen: Give it Up.

Grant: Oh, that’s a good one. Yeah, that’s a good one.

Neil: Thank you for looking.

Grant: I got that one in a dollar bin as well. And that’s the thing, I mean, that’s a great thing about Bonnie Raitt is you can find a lot of her music real cheap, and she’s always good.

Neil: Yeah. Got to work on… Ooh, we used to have a lot of Bob Seger going. I’m seeing that one folded over right now. Andrew’s looking at me like, no, Bob Seger. No chance.

Grant: See, don’t worry about Andrew. I’m with you on Bob Seger. I like Bob Seger too. I got a lot of his stuff too.

Neil: There’s a Fu Manchu going on his album cover right now. Let’s go to Crystal Corner and put 20 in the TouchTunes, and Bob Seger all night.

Grant: I believe that album is Night Moves is the album. Yeah.

Neil: It is.

Grant: That’s a good one.

Andrew: Hey, I don’t mind Bob Seger at all. I was introduced to him by way of Metallica fandom and seeing them cover Turn the Page, before they released their cover album. And I was like, “What fucking song is this?” Like the 10 year older than me, older brother of a high school friend that I went to the show with, “You don’t know who fucking Bob Seger is?” I’m like, “No, I’m…” Yeah, no I did not. But I got an education.

Neil: Just as important.

Andrew: It’s true.

Grant: So I went to the record store today, I picked up this gem today [holds up Rick James’ Cold Blooded LP].

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Neil: Oh, wow. Oh, wow. You going to wear that outfit to the next game?

Grant: Rick James, Cold Blooded.

Neil: Was it under five dollars?

Grant: It was five dollars, exactly.

Neil: There you go, worth it. It’s the threshold, sometimes, the five dollar threshold. Is it worth it or not?

Grant: I also picked this up. They had a original pressed copy of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, that was in good shape for 19. And then I took it home… Yeah. I took it home and put it up on Discogs, and then, it was a buy.

Neil: Crank it.

Andrew: Well, have to share out some recommendations here. I’m going to link all that stuff in the article, when it’s done. But I actually want to respect your time tonight, Neil. I know like we’ve took a little bit more than I said, about a half hour.

Neil: All good. It’s not empty yet.

Andrew: That’s true. You got a Victoria Lager there.

Neil: I do.

Grant: Nice.

Andrew: Nice choice. Excellent choice.

Grant: Excellent choice.

Andrew: Yeah, we will actually let you get going back to your evening. Looks like the Hailstorm/Charlotte game is tied up one-one.

Grant: I think we’re all probably going to go put that on right now, I would assume.

Neil: Yes.

Andrew: Yeah, probably.

Grant: Neil, one thing too. Make sure you tell your sis, find Andrew and me at some point on Saturday, and a whiskey sour is on us.

Andrew: Yeah.

Neil: A whiskey sour, and she is a former teacher as well, so you guys share that trait.

Grant: There you go. I’m sure we’ll hit it off.

Andrew: Well, Neil, thank you so much for your time tonight, being generous with us.

Grant: Yeah, I appreciate it bro.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s been a great chat.

Neil: Of course, no, pleasure.

Andrew: Yeah. And hopefully we can do this again sometime soon.

Neil: Definitely, let me know.

Andrew: All righty.

Grant: All right. Be easy man.

Neil: All right, guys, have a good night. Enjoy the match.

Andrew: Alright. See ya.


  • 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.


  • Grant Pieters

    Father, deep thinker, lover of life...and falafel.


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