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From the Pitch - Back to the Beach

By Chris Wehan, 11/20/20, 1:59PM EST


Back to the Beach

Author - Chris Wehan
Chris Wehan
Orange County SC
November 20, 2020

The answer to your question is family. 

Family is why I decided to come home. It’s why I’m excited for this next chapter of my life and my career. It’s why I’m here, now, in Orange County, California. 

Also, In-and-Out! 

Just kidding. 

Sort of. 

(Whispers out the car window: “Double-double “animal style,” please.”)

But seriously (takes a bite), I grew up here. I grew up on the beach, near the water, and no matter where soccer took me -- Seattle, Reno, San Jose, New Mexico --  I knew that when we played in Southern California I was going to need about 40 tickets to pack as many of my friends and family into the building as possible. So to be back now, playing for a local club... it’s a dream. 

But hold up. Before I talk about that anymore, I HAVE to shout out New Mexico United. 

I remember when I first heard that a USL Championship club was coming to Albuquerque. I went to college there. I’m a Lobo, so naturally I remember thinking it sounded cool. But that was it. The thought came and went. Life went on. 

But now, after having spent a few years with New Mexico United… Let me tell you something: That place is SPECIAL.  

I feel grateful for the experience. I think it was meant to be in a way. To be a part of this organization from the start is something I’m really really proud of. There are so many memories -- the Cinco de Mayo match, the Open Cup run, the chartered flight with fans, the playoff win against San Antonio -- those are things I will carry with me wherever I go.

There will always be a piece of me in New Mexico. Going to college there. Meeting my wife there. Playing the last two seasons there. I’ll miss it. 

But changes are a part of being a professional athlete, you just have to fight to make sure those changes are good ones. And maybe the most unique thing about this move is that I’m leaving one great organization for another. As a professional athlete you don’t always get that.  

The trick is to try and find balance. Balance between your career and your family. And the fact that I get to move home, move to a great organization, to a club with a bright future who has done well in the Championship in the last few years -- and to do it WITH my family -- is too good an opportunity to pass up. 

I’m going to let you in on a little secret too: When I was looking at potential clubs, Orange County was always my number one choice. 

I obviously didn’t tell them that (laughs) because then they have all the cards. But it’s true. This is where I wanted to be and from the start they were super easy to work with and put a package together that I am really happy with.

Like I said, I grew up a beach kid. Living out in the desert, you only get half of that. You get the sand (laughs), but you don’t get the water. So I am really looking forward to being closer to the beach. It does something special to you in life and I’m really excited that my wife (she’s from Nashville) will get to see this lifestyle. 

But now it’s time to get to work. I’ve heard great things about club captain, Michael Orozco. I know Thomas Enevoldsen was on loan, but I hope he will be back next year too. The guy scores goals. 

Add in what the club is doing on the youth side and you have all the ingredients for success. Talking Oliver Wyss and Peter Nugent, you can tell they are ingrained in the community in a way that I think is unique. They’re giving youth players an opportunity to play with the first team. To work their way up. And they’ve made partnerships around the world with Rangers. 

I think that part is unique. A part of them pitching me was that they wanted me to come in and mentor them and let them know what it takes to be a pro. I look forward to that.

So look, I know it’s not going to be easy. It never is in soccer. 

But I’m so happy to be home. To be reunited with the community I grew up in. To be with family. 


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