There are many perks to being a professional athlete. Celebrity, travel and the simple fact that one gets paid to play a game are the most obvious.
While the list of positives is a long one, a lengthy season also provides limited time to squeeze in major life events, and even less when you get called to U.S. Men’s National Team January Camp.
Such was the case for Taylor Kemp, Dax McCarty, Wil Trapp and Walker Zimmerman, all of whom had to fit in another important moment before heading to camp – saying ‘I do.’
“The offseason is wedding season for M.L.S. guys,” Kemp, who got married on Dec. 17 (below), told ussoccer.com. “Everyone is fighting for the same weekend, so we had to get ours in early and get the word out so none of my friends would schedule on the same day.”
To illustrate the wedding date pile-up, miles away from Kemp’s ceremony in Arlington, Va., fellow MNT teammate Wil Trapp was also tying the knot with his wife Beth in Gahanna, Ohio.
“It’s funny, you talk to the guys here and they ask what day you got married,” the Columbus Crew SC midfielder (pictured below) said. “A lot of us here probably share the same days because there’s only about a month-long window where you can conceivably have a sure bet that there won’t be anything else going on that weekend.”
With M.L.S. players reporting to their preseason camps during the third week of January and the M.L.S. Cup Final coming in the second week of December, the wedding window is incredibly small.
Thankfully for the players, it seems soccer brides-to-be are starting to plan things out years in advance. At least that was the case for Zimmerman’s new wife Sally (pictured below).
“I didn’t know this at the time, but when we started dating, her and her sister were looking at the calendar and saw three or four years down the road that New Year’s Eve was on a Saturday,” he said. “They picked out a date a year into our relationship. We dated for five years, so that’s pretty crazy.”
Try as they might to fit all the regular festivities in, things don’t always go according to plan. For the Kemps, Taylor’s first call to MNT camp meant he and his wife Brittany had to cut short their honeymoon in Hawaii.
“I was super excited about the call-up and then realized it would conflict some with our plans,” he said.
Understanding the opportunity, the new Mrs. Kemp was supportive of the change.
“We shuffled some things around, changed some flights, cancelled some hotels and managed some tears, but it all worked out for the best. We still had our wedding, honeymoon and got to camp on time.”
Having not played in a match for the MNT since January 2011, McCarty and his then fiancé Jen (pictured below) settled on their Jan. 14 wedding date a year ago. Thinking he’d go straight from his nuptials into preseason, instead McCarty earned his first camp call-up since January 2014. He reached out to new U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, who allowed him to join the group following his wedding last Saturday.
And again, Mrs. McCarty was understanding.
“She’s my biggest fan and has been nothing but fantastic throughout the whole process,” he said. “I couldn’t have married a better one, I know that.”
While Dax received special dispensation, the date meant that fellow January Camp participants and McCarty wedding invitees Sacha Kljestan, Luis Robles, Juan Agudelo and Chris Pontius were all unable to attend.
“Obviously I told them that duty calls.” McCarty said. “I wanted them to be here and for them to be able to impress Bruce and his staff from the beginning.”
Whether having to cut short a honeymoon or not have one at all, each of the four players know that being away again so quickly after getting married means they’ll have to make things up to their new brides. And they’re okay with that.
“Once January Camp and preseason with D.C. United is over, I’ll probably owe her a couple things,” Kemp joked.