Thanks to Rosenberry, Christmas comes twice for Union fan
Two weeks later, the excitement of that present grew to proportions he could’ve never expected.
Video of Chambers, 9, sobbing with joy as he unwrapped sets of tickets to Union games and a signed picture of his favorite player, Keegan Rosenberry, went viral across the MLS world. Friday, Chambers spent the morning with Rosenberry on a personal tour of the Union’s training facility.
Thank you @K_J_Rose @PhilaUnion for making his Christmas a little more special pic.twitter.com/N0chkEewyb— Shawn Chambers (@shawnpat76) December 25, 2016
The Pottstown resident – along with his parents, Shawn and Tanya, and younger sister, Emery – got the behind-the-scenes Union experience. Chambers shot a game of pool with in the team’s recreation area with Rosenberry and went through the daily routine of a Union players, from the video theater to lunch room to training facilities, all with a personalized journey for the occasion.
“You don’t get to play pool with a famous soccer player all the time,” Chambers said.
Keegan Rosenberry working on his callup to the US billiards team (with fan Ethan Chambers) pic.twitter.com/7Swb7ynOhH— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) January 6, 2017
Chambers, who plays for the Pottsgrove Force, was hooked last summer when he and his club attended the July date with Vancouver at Talen Energy Stadium. The gameday experience of seeing players he idolizes up close shaped Chambers’ Christmas wish list: Tickets to a Union game, and books.
“I get to actually see what they do and it makes me want to learn more about it so that way I can get better at it and progress,” Chambers said.
Rosenberry, a native of Ronks who is entering his second year with the club, was more than happy to make the experience happen for Chambers.
“I think I was just as excited as Ethan was,” Rosenberry said. “What makes our job so special is playing for people like that, playing for people that love the team so much. That’s what makes the home games special. And it’s anybody that has that passion, but especially the kids. To see how emotional he was and how happy he was to be here today was incredible for me.”
"I've never seen someone so excited to get tickets." - Keegan pic.twitter.com/STzDNz2Asm— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) January 6, 2017
Ethan’s father, Shawn, says Philadelphia fandom runs in the family. He reminisced about his first Philly sports experience, a trip from their home in central Pennsylvania to Veterans Stadium to watch the Phillies take on the Dodgers, with Shawn and his family inadvertently parking in the players’ parking lot and getting to meet the likes of former pitcher Orel Hershiser.
Shawn admits that soccer wasn’t on his sporting radar given the distance to any tangible connection. But being just one tweet removed from an experience like what Ethan got Friday has changed that.
“To actually be able to come down here, and it’s so accessible, we couldn’t believe where our seats were, how close we were to the actual playing field,” Shawn said. “And the accessibility afterwards with players sticking around and signing autographs, that’s just really cool for kids like this who want to play soccer. It’s the world’s sport. Out here with the big teams you don’t necessarily think about soccer. But it’s all we talk about in our house.”
Rosenberry echoes that sentiment. His earliest memories of pro soccer came in his teens once the Union were founded. For the 23-year-old, who has been called into the U.S. national team’s January camp, affording a kid like Ethan this experience is his way of paying forward the chances he would’ve wanted as a child with a fanatical interest in soccer.
“To see both sides is really unique,” Rosenberry said. “It doesn’t happen to a lot of people, so that’s why this stuff is so special to time, interacting with fans, forming bonds and stuff like that. I would say the first couple of years I came here have meant a lot to me and just the experience I’ve had over the last couple of years as well.”