William Hesmer holds most of the significant goalkeeping records in Columbus Crew history. He is an MLS Cup champion. He is a stoppage time goalscorer in Toronto at the apex of #LOLTFC. He once rehabbed a major injury by taking an internship at a local investment firm to kickstart his post-soccer career as a financial planner.
He is also one of the many Crew alumni excited about the dawn of a new era in Columbus. I called down to North Carolina to get Hesmer’s thoughts on the Crew being saved.
Oh, and the personal “flaw” that he mentions is his inability to stay in the moment. This stems from our conversation in the locker room after winning MLS Cup, and he was already thinking about the changes that would happen to the team heading into 2009. He doesn’t linger on success for too long. After an achievement–even an MLS Cup!–his mind moves on to thinking about the next thing.
Anyway, here’s what he had to say…
On the Crew being 100% officially saved:
I watched a little bit of it live, trying to catch pieces of it during the workday. I’m excited for Doc. It’s a homerun. You literally cannot find a negative with any piece of how this all played out, other than the torture we had to go through for a year.
On Dr. Edwards being part of the ownership group:
Most probably didn’t know, but I’m sure they know it now, but Dr. Edwards is probably the most “Crew” person around. He’s survived coaching changes, player turnover, and ownership turnover. Dwight (Burgess) and Doc have been the two constants since the Crew started.
From a player’s perspective, I’ve spent way too much time with Dr. Edwards. He’s such a nice guy, and wants to be your friend and wants to help and wants to do whatever he can for you, so he’s not like a lot of other owners around throughout the league. You would never know from talking to Dr. Edwards that he has that kind of power behind him. It wasn’t until several years with the Crew that I learned that about him from other guys. You’d hear talk around town about his family and it’s like, “Yeah, he’s an orthopedic surgeon and helps you guys for fun.”
I imagine this is how he views his ownership of the Crew. He has a passion for it, he’s been around it, he’s heard various points of view—the good and the bad– for decades, and he’s got really good relationships around the league. I’m happy for him on a personal level because I value Dr. Edwards’ friendship just as much as I value his guidance and his medical expertise. But Dr. Edwards knows what’s going on, knows the issues, knows the people that can help solve problems from a lot of different perspectives, so I’m very very happy that he’s a part of it.
I don’t think Dr. Edwards knows how to do anything half way. Man, he pulled this off. I, for one, never doubted him.
On the Haslam family being a major part of the ownership group:
I knew nothing about the Haslams other than what you read in various articles about the Browns, but they have the expertise and the knowledge of the sports world. You’ve got to believe that inside their NFL circles, they’ve had talks with the Krafts, the Arthur Blanks and the other cross-owners if you will, and for the Haslams to jump on this opportunity, it has to bode well for what’s being said inside those circles about MLS.
And from my understanding from Pete, which he has gotten spot on, is that his experience within the league and seeing various franchises do well or suffer, the teams that just have money owners, like “here’s the team, I’m just buying it but I’m hands off and I’m not invested with my heart and soul”…he’s seen firsthand how that works.
He’s also seen how it works when you have local owners or a conglomerate of local owners that not only have the monetary backing, but put their heart and soul and passion toward being stewards of a club, not just takers of a club.
There’s probably no better quote in all of this than when Doc Edwards said he’s not going to view himself as an owner, and that he views himself as a steward because the city and the fans own this team. And in some regards, I think why so many players love Dr. Edwards, and why in this last regime it was so hard for him to watch, was how the alumni were treated. He views us alumni as much of owners of the club as the fans or city, which is awesome to hear because that’s how we all feel about Columbus. I don’t think there are very many of us that felt that love in the Precourt era. It almost felt like we were to be eradicated and our history was to be erased.
On the plans to keep MAPFRE Stadium intact as part of the new training facility and public sports park:
I love that they are keeping current stadium. And I hope that even when the new stadium is built that they keep playing the U.S-Mexico game in the old one.
On the #SaveTheCrew movement succeeding in its mission:
This is probably the first time something like this has been done in American sports. It’s truly remarkable.
I’ve never been a quantity guy. You can say our numbers aren’t good, but if you look at the passion and quality of our fans, I’d put them up against anyone.
I say thanks, but—and this is my flaw, as you know, Sirk—thanks, this is awesome, but the fight is not over. You’ve got to go out and prove it. You’ve got to put butts in seats. You’ve got to show up at games. You’ve got to rally the troops. We need to back it up with season tickets, etc. I don’t feel like that will be a problem with the new stadium, the inertia that this movement has, and the new local ownership groups. I think the grassroots and the corporate support will be there.
A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.