California native Andre Rawls has enjoyed his time on the East Coast and representing the Big Apple since signing with New York City FC in March.
The 26-year-old rookie goalkeeper, who has yet to make an appearance in net, spoke to amNewYork about how he would like to take flight both on and off the field.
What is your favorite spot in the city?
So far, my favorite in the city has been Time Square. There is always something new to see when I pass through and the buildings and lighting is also amazing to see at night.
How do you like riding the subway?
I’m still getting used to it, but so far I’ve been able to navigate it. I come from San Francisco where we have BART and MUNI, but neither really matches the subway culture. (I am still waiting to run into the subway performers I have heard so much about.)
What is a typical off day like for you in the city?
For me, I would like to see everything New York City has to offer, so I try to see a different part of the city with every visit I take on my days off. I know NYC has many different identities and cultures within, so I would like to experience as many as I can.
What does it mean to you to represent the city?
It’s an absolute honor to represent New York. This city is like no other I’ve been in. Our fans wear their hearts on their sleeves, and they are proud and strong, and I feel they are as much part of the team as the players are. To be able represent them is a privilege.
What is your favorite city restaurant?
I haven’t found my favorite restaurant in the city… yet. (I am still open to recommendations). For now, I would like to try most of the mom and pop type restaurants, because I have found that they have a really fun and friendly atmosphere to them.
What is your favorite off-the-pitch memory of the city?
That would be the first time I was ever in the city. You can only grasp so much of something through a picture. If a picture is worth 1,000 words than an experience is worth 100 times that.
What is your favorite New York team other than New York City FC?
I would have to give it to the Yankees!
How did you first start playing soccer?
Growing up, I was an all-around athlete. I loved just running around. Both of my parents had full-time jobs, so sports was a way for me to have fun and not be home alone for the whole day. Of the sports I played, soccer was the one I had the most fun with because I was able to just run around. Later on, I wanted more than just running, so I switched to playing goalkeeper and never looked back.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Work beats talent, unless talent works.
What has been the most memorable moment of your soccer career?
The most memorable moment is the day I got drafted. There so many emotions flowing to see that my dream and hard work had finally paid off felt truly surreal.
If you could give advice to fellow soccer players, what would you say?
My advice is simple: The mind is a powerful tool, and if you truly want something in life, keep your mind focused on that something every time you step on the field.
What are some of your non-soccer hobbies?
One of my greatest hobbies comes from my physics background. My whole life, I’ve always loved figuring out how things are made and how things work. It’s always like a puzzle for me to solve. I am lucky to have some downtime after practice, so I am trying to pick up more and more hobbies as well.
Do you have any gameday rituals?
If there was a ritual I follow it would be consistency. I try to do every gameday the same, that way I know I am focused and ready for the game.
What music do you enjoy listening to on gamedays?
My usual gameday playlists consist mostly of electronic/EDM, but I do throw in some of the great guitarists, such as Jimi Hendrix.
What is something NYCFC fans should know about you that they do not already?
NYC should know that I am a plane fanatic. I’ve loved planes ever since I was a kid, figuring out how they fly and all the pieces that go into them. I hope to get my pilot’s license very soon!