"I think my ability to step back and continue to work hard and progress and to see my goals so clearly pushed me through all of the difficulties."
We are very excited to bring you the genius behind "Cognitive Goalkeeping", professional goalkeeper Devala Gorrick! Read the interview below to get a sense of the path that he has taken throughout his career and what has lead him on his latest endeavor!
Let's dive right in! As a youth player, you got the opportunity to train with some pretty big European clubs. How did those opportunities come about and how did those experiences help you develop as a young goalkeeper?
When I was about 5 years old I told myself I wanted to play in Europe no matter what. It was a dream that I probably shared with every single person I met and knew to the point where I was probably pretty annoyed. But my mentor, Mark Dillon, had known me for some time and when I was about 14 he called me one day and said “Hey Devala, there is an opportunity to go train and be seen by a team called Leverkussen, however you will have to book a flight to go by next week.” Obviously, my response was “Where is Leverkussen?”. I clearly knew nothing of the team that was one of the greatest teams in football history.
All I knew was that it was in Europe and I was going. I trained for a couple months with basically every youth squad that would allow me to. Some days I would train with the U16s at 9am, go and join the U18s directly after, and very often would try to sneak in for some time with the U21s which happened to train on the same field as the pro team. I would look over and see players that I only knew about later like Oliver Nueville, Michael Ballack, Lucio and many more. That experience planted a seed of passion within me that kept me going throughout the rest of my career. It was a dream come true to see the level that I wanted to be at and to have the chance to prove to myself that I could one day play there.
Despite the European experiences, you chose to go the college route here in the States, what lead to that decision? What ultimately lead you to Tyler Junior College?
Once I decided that I couldn’t go straight to the pro level I was given really good direction to go to college and get games and experience at that level and use it as a stepping stone. I went to Tyler Junior College for 2 years to begin as my grades were not the best; Tyler Junior College was also known to be a springboard college for good players. After 2 great years there I transferred to Barry University in Miami. There is where I fully dedicated myself to my goals and career. I would study and do my best in school but my focus was to play and go pro from there so my training and expectations and passion grew immensely.
As a professional, you have played in a wide variety of countries. How have you been able to adapt to the various playing styles on the field and the different cultures off of it?
So after a successful stint at Miami FC and in Puerto Rico my agent called me and told me I needed to go to Thailand and that there was a contract there I could win and make good money. I honestly didn’t know where Thailand was but the idea of going oversees was very exciting for me. I had so much to prove at that time but I had very little opportunities or people willing to give me a shot. I strongly believed that persistence and adaptability have always been my strengths and that is why I was able to succeed in different styles, languages, climates, cultures, and most importantly the different food. It definitely was NOT easy ill tell you that. When I first signed in Thailand I was ripped off by a third party agent, robbed, offered a bare minimum contract, had to learn to speak Thai, and within my first game playing I made the biggest mistake of my career in front of 40,000 people.
I think my ability to step back and continue to work hard and progress and to see my goals so clearly pushed me through all of the difficulties. Things never go smoothly in life and most of the time we go into situations with expectation and when we don’t get the outcome we wanted we are disappointed and discouraged. So my plan was to not have expectation and to only have my overall goal in mind , which kept the day to day frustrations under control.
You've had a long and successful career so far, what do you think are some things that have lead to your longevity in this game?
You know for me it was always a strong self belief that I carry with me. I have had to battle every possible situation that could arise in a career and when things would come up I would try to not ever let them affect me personally and separate the personal from the “business”. I also developed a number of good hobbies and interests off the field that would allow myself to work really hard in training and in games, and then be able to step away and reset my mind and body and be able to come back with a clear and fresh attitude.
Let's switch gears a bit; I want to discuss Cognitive Goalkeeping. Tell us more about the business? What was the motivation behind starting this?
So I am a big follower of the saying “Sports is 90% mental and 10% physical”. Over the years I have worked with and tried to learn from sports psychologist and experienced pros who understood how to strengthen the mind along with the body.
So “Cognitive Goalkeeping” is my project where I try to dig out the different ways athletes have become mentally strong and the processes they used to get there. I want to share with all Goalkeepers and field players and anyone else that wants to know how to control the mind to be able to maximize its capability.
Who has been your favorite interview so far? What is some of the best advice they gave?
I really enjoyed each person I've interviewed and spoken to they were all so diverse and their stories were so different but yet very familiar. I think Aaron King is a big inspiration because he has always set his standards way above himself in order to reach them and succeed beyond mediocre.
What other interests do you have off the field? How have you been able to balance your off field interests with your obligations as a professional goalkeeper?
I love outdoor activities like biking, hiking, snowboarding etc. And I love finding new interests all the time as little challenges or curiosities. Recently I took up the attempt at painting and trying to learn the piano. I definitely got ahead of myself on these ones, but no turning back now!
Last question! Which makes you happier; a new headshot or a new pair of gloves?
Man there is very few things in life to me better than a fresh pair of gloves. The headshot is definitely not for me, but the new glove smell cannot be beaten!