Forward, L.A. Galaxy

By Teryl Warren


Photo Credit: Robert Mora/LA Galaxy

As a professional athlete, MLS L.A. Galaxy star Adam Cristman has pretty much done it all.  He’s enjoyed a successful collegiate career, played professionally for teams in cities all over the U.S., and overcome injury to return to the sport he loves. We sat down with Adam on the eve of his L.A. Galaxy squad’s Playoffs bid in pursuit of their third MLS Cup title to learn more about the life of a world class athlete.

In countries all around the world, soccer – or “football” as it’s known everywhere except in the United States – is the national sport.  People learn to play in their childhood and develop a love for it at a very early age.  As a youngster growing up in Virginia, Adam Cristman was fortunate to develop his love for soccer at an early age, as well, as he rooted for the DC United home team.

“The Washington, D.C. area is a multicultural area, and the pro soccer team, there, DC United, has great community support and a lot of tradition.”

In most instances, teams from the United States have typically been underdogs when it comes to international play.  But thanks to the addition of new stadiums, state-of-the-art training facilities, and stars like Landon Donovan and David Beckham – both of whom are Adam’s L.A. Galaxy teammates – the number of fans that packs into venues like the Home Depot Center to watch Major League Soccer in the United States has nearly tripled in recent years.

“Soccer has gained a lot of popularity in the U.S., particularly over the past 10 – 15 years,” Adam told us. “Every 3-4 years, you can see it getting bigger and bigger in this country.  Global television coverage of events and the success of the US Women’s team in this year’s World Cup have raised the bar of play and the level of enthusiasm among fans in this country.”

But while there is certainly a lot of glamour in the world of professional sports, there are also personal challenges that can come with the territory.  In just 5 years in the league, Adam has already played on 4 different teams.  “Sometimes you have to go through a lot of change, especially when you have to adapt to a new city,” he said.

“When I was traded from Kansas City to D.C. United, my wife was pregnant, so it meant changing doctors, hospitals and everything. But, at the end of the day, you have to go where you’re wanted.  So, we had to accept change as part of the adventure of professional sports.”

Most players play into their mid to late 30’s, so at just 27, Adam has a while to think about life after soccer.  But he’s already identified one possible post-career career. “I loved being at the University of Virginia, so I would love to go back there and coach some day.  It would be great to give back to the school and the program that gave so much to me.”

Photo Credit: Robert Mora/LA Galaxy

Giving back, it seems, is one of the things that Adam really enjoys about his job as an athlete and role model. In fact, it may surprise some to know, that Adam Cristman cites the interaction with the community as one of the most rewarding aspects of life in the pros.

“As athletes, we get a lot of opportunities to work with charities.  I really enjoy talking with kids and sharing a positive message with them that encourages them to eat right, stay active, avoid negative influences and be the best they can be.”

Team visits to children’s hospitals also rank among some of Adam’s favorite off-the-field moments. “It’s great to see how excited the kids get when you visit them.  It makes their day, and it makes you feel like you’ve made a difference knowing that you’ve inspired them in some way.”

With a wife, a daughter and a son on the way, Adam says he prefers to spend most of his off-season time with his family.  We asked Adam to describe his style – as both a player and as a man.  As a self-proclaimed “Virginia boy,” Adam describes his personal style as a blend of his love for his family, for his hometown and his love of the outdoors. “I guess you could say I’m part dad, part surfer, and part outdoorsman.  My ultimate goal is to be able to do a little bit of everything.”

And as a player: “I’m a very blue collar player. I play more physically than a lot of other players do.  I do a lot of the dirty, hard work that often goes unnoticed, but makes a big difference in the game.  I do things on the field to set up my teammates, put them in positions to score and make an impact.”

Throughout the MLS playoffs, the eyes of the soccer world will be on the L.A. Galaxy.  And we hope that more than a few of them will notice the things that Adam Cristman does to help his team succeed.

Adam Cristman is also featured in the book A Better Man.

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