Below is my latest piece for unionfantv.com. I interviewed 12-year-old, Philadelphia Union super-fan, Ryan, whose passion and enthusiasm for the team reminded me a lot of my younger self.
I had the pleasure of sitting down before the Philadelphia Union’s recent match against FC Dallas, to talk with one young fan, whose passion and enthusiasm for the club is truly “next level.” Everyone, meet Ryan.
Ryan, 12, from Mullica Hill, NJ is like most kids his age — buoyant and brimming with energy. I’d argue that nothing currently unfolding in this world, or MLS season could bring his spirits down.
Ryan’s love for the Union, as well as for sports in general was apparent from the moment I first sat down to talk with him during the teams’ warm-up, to the moment I walked away from his family’s seats just below the River Deck.
I’ll admit, it felt wrong of me to divert Ryan’s attention away from his heroes on the field. But Ryan was more than gracious enough to take time to talk.
Like many kids his age, Ryan is consumed by sports.
He plays basketball, baseball, flag football, and travel soccer, in which he is a goalie for his club team. When Ryan’s not actively shooting hoops, or channeling his inner Andre Blake on a Saturday morning, he’s busy watching his beloved Union, including the other Philadelphia sports teams on TV, or at their respective stadium.
But rest assured, Ryan isn’t your average 12 year old, nor is he just any fan.
No, Ryan is a full-fledged producer and talkshow host. At an age where most kids are still searching for a hobby or a passion, Ryan has already found his.
He’s the face (and voice) of Talk DOOP With Ryan on YouTube (and now, Twitter), as well as the Chief DOOPING Officer and Lead DOOP Anchor of the show, according to the clever business card Ryan handed me.
Ryan began Talk DOOP in June of 2016, in an effort to take his fandom “to the next level,” and with a desire to share his passion and knowledge of the team with other fans.
Posted weekly on the show’s YouTube channel and Twitter page, Talk DOOP, and of course, Ryan continues to provide fans with up-to-date reports on everything surrounding the Philadelphia Union organization.
From The Injury Report, which informs fans on the fitness status of players, to Match Previews, which offer both an adept look at the Union’s upcoming opponent, as well as the opposing players whom fans ought to keep a close eye on, Ryan covers it in episodes that range anywhere from two to six minutes in length.
Episodes are short-and-sweet, yet informative and researched extensively beforehand by Ryan himself, who presents the information he gathers from the Philadelphia Union website, including other outlets, in an energetic and entertaining manner.
Readers should note that all of Ryan’s research is done after he returns home from school, of course.
Now, more than a year after the initial launch of the show, and with the help of his family and friends, Ryan has hosted 66 episodes (and counting) of Talk DOOP that has amassed for his channel more than 2,600 views, a loyal 57 subscribers, and has even garnered the attention of the club itself.
Last year, the Philadelphia Union offered fans the unique opportunity to win a pair of season tickets for this season, by downloading, printing out, and taking pictures with a PDF cutout of Union captain, Alejandro Bedoya.
It happened to be perfect timing for Ryan who, at the time, had just started his show.
Ryan, who used Talk DOOP and Bedoya Box as the ultimate platform and co-host partner, was announced as the lucky winner of the contest at a home match last October, and was presented with a pair of season tickets for this season.
This year was Ryan and his father’s first, as season ticket holders.
Apart from his desire to take his fandom to the “next level,” Ryan has two very influential people in his life, who continue to help guide him and his budding show along the way.
One of whom being his father Mike, who does freelance work for networks in the sports’ media industry, and occasionally serves as a writer, spotter, or statistician. Mike helps Ryan edit episodes, directs the camera and promotes the show on social media.
Union sportscaster and family friend, Dave Leno being the other. “I talked to him [Dave Leno], and he helped me with the idea for the show,” said Ryan. “He’s somebody that I look up to.”
Leno and Ryan’s father have worked together in the past during Temple Mens’ Basketball games. Now in his second season co-hosting LIVE prematch, halftime and postmatch shows on Union telecasts, Leno continues to serve as a mentor for young Ryan.
Talk DOOP has taught many life lessons, according to Ryan. “Now I get annoyed when I don’t get an episode up in a timely fashion,” said Ryan. “I have a need to study up, before I just casually record.”
It may have opened up a potential career path for Ryan, later down the road. “This is something I definitely would want to keep doing [for a career],” added Ryan.
So what’s next for Talk DOOP?
Ryan tells me he is still holding out for his dream special guest and current Union midfielder, Roland Alberg to appear on an episode recorded on Talen Energy Stadium’s pitch.
Ryan also wanted to remind the readers on UnionFanTV that a special playoff edition of the show is not yet out of the equation (although it’s looking increasingly unlikely).
Nevertheless, I asked Ryan this, to which he smiled and shrugged: “I don’t know. I was thinking of getting a little stand [in Toyota Plaza] to get people to subscribe to Talk DOOP.”
For now, there is no stand, episodes are recorded from the comfort of his family’s dining room table, and his sister, Keira serves as an occasional co-DOOP Anchor. But fortunately for Ryan, time is definitely on his side.
Thank you to Ryan and his father Mike, who were kind enough to sit down with me for this story. You can find Ryan and his show on Twitter @TalkDOOP, on the “Shows” tab of the UnionFanTV site, as well as on YouTube.