Michael has always played freely, avoiding “bunch ball” or following the pack. For the entirety of his playing career, he always played his own game. While Michael always devoted himself to meeting team standards, he truly despised the often rigid protocols: strict uniform policies, detailed itineraries, and inflexible game plans. Michael's passion for the game and for helping others drove him to make sacrifices that would benefit the team over himself, but he also recognized that he needed to concentrate his energy on being individually successful off the field. Michael focused on networking, graduating college early, and solidifying internships and opportunities to add value to himself and others beyond athletics.
After ten years in Major League Soccer and with two MLS Cup Championships in his locker, Michael found himself irritated and falling out of love with the league's exploitation of players, poor compensation, and mediocre standard of play. He spent his late twenties being traded around from Portland to D.C. before turning 30, losing his grandfather, and playing himself back into the league with the Houston Dynamo. Michael moved back to Texas with the focus and intent of dusting off his extensive network while simultaneously gearing up for his next game.
What Michael did not know is that this trade would be the last of his career and his final season as a professional soccer player. Most professional athletes do not plan their exits; it's much easier for them to believe that they'll play forever. So it was with Michael. In 2014, toward the twilight of his career, he found himself without a team or contract. He was educated, had networked, and was prepared for what would come next, but he quickly realized the solidarity of the experience. Michael faced the darkness alone without help from the league, former clubs, or teammates.
While struggling to keep up with bills and find a place to live - on top of trying to find himself - Michael found work in corporate America. He resorted to any opportunity that provided stability, but he was also still searching for the familiar: a team, a locker room, and a high level of fitness. Michael bounced around from Morgan Stanley to a boutique private equity group and finally landed at a commodity brokerage shop slanging natural gas. For the first time in his life, he worked jobs that didn’t care about his fitness, skill, or playing ability. Again, the uniform wasn't the right fit. He was irritated by timelines he didn't believe in and game plans he couldn’t stand behind. For the first time in his life, he knew that he was playing without passion.
What was fueling Michael's fire was an idea that he was working on outside of his 9-5 job, an idea that was created when he was left without a team. The concept focused on assisting teammates and connecting players both on and off the field in hopes of not only recreating the locker room but also changing the game.
During his transition to corporate America, Michael continued to train himself in case he was presented with an opportunity to get back into the league. Unable to find a team with whom to train, he looked at fitness classes and concepts that could supplement the structure and atmosphere that he needed to be at the peak of his game. Class after class and concept after concept disappointed and frustrated him. When he realized that what he was looking for was something that didn't yet exist, Michael decided to create it. And, sphere was born.