By Andrew Dykstra

I am now down in Sarasota, Fla. and training with my MLS team. I still don’t want to say who I’m with in the event that I am not given a contract or I choose not to sign. My mother has not been able to contain herself, and she has already blabbed to the neighbors about my current team. So if you know her phone number, she has all the details for you!

The weather here is beautiful. It’s sunny, clear skies and there is a refreshing chill at night. I am dreading any potential mid-day heat. I should be grateful that pre-season is not in the summer. Tomorrow we have a team breakfast at 8 a.m., leave for training at 10 a.m., will train for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and back for lunch at 2 p.m. We leave for our second session at 4 p.m., have another full practice and back again to the hotel for dinner at 7 p.m. We typically repeat this routine until the coach decides we need a break. “Breaks” typically mean a weight lifting session to change routine, or maybe limit our practices to one a day.

They now make players wear heart rate monitors to monitor their heart beats during practices. The purpose is to make sure that a player’s heart beat is not above the average. When that happens, it indicates that the athlete’s body is fatigued and trying to compensate. Coaches will pull out single players from practice whose heart rate is too high to allow him to recover. If too many players are above the average, that’s when you see the coaches change the day’s routine to keep us fresh. Unfortunately, goalkeepers don’t have heart monitors, so we still live by the old school methods!! When you puke or pass out, you’ve probably had enough.

I will do what I can to keep my faithful readers (all three of them, ha) up to date with what’s going on. I can’t wait to share some stories. Hopefully an enjoyable pre-season will allow for a few.

Andrew Dykstra was a four-year starter in goal for the VCU Men’s Soccer Team from 2005-08. He spent two seasons with the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer and played the 2011 season with the Charleston Battery of the USL.

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