Orlando City midfielder Dillon Powers has not played much this season and the former MLS Rookie of the Year has just 90 minutes under his belt. His lone start came against the Seattle Sounders in a game that James O’Connor made 11 changes from the previous match. The Lions lost 2-1, but Powers put on an impressive display.
“Yeah [it’s been frustrating not playing much],” said Powers after training on Saturday. “I feel like, as a player, you want to play games. Why else am I here? I think it’s been a huge year of growth for me. I’ve been really able to dial in my mindset and my physique, and I feel like I’m playing some of the best football I’ve ever played in my life. I’m seeing the game better than I have.
“I hold faith that if I train properly, if I keep my standards high, that when the time comes, then I’ll be prepared. I felt like the one opportunity that I did get this year I was prepared enough to put out a decent enough performance. I’m hoping to build on that in the coming months, and I have a good feeling about the direction of the next few months as far as myself is concerned.”
While Powers continues to work hard on the field, he has been active off the field as well. Powers does plenty of work with the Orlando City Foundation, and is an active member in the community.
“I try to think of creative ways to get involved,” he said. “Last year, at the end of the year, Shane [O’Neill] and I did a fun little juicing demo clinic at one of the community centers. I have a special interest in lifestyle and diet and trying to incorporate that and letting people understand that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you. So, that’s one of the things that we did last year. Special Olympics is something that’s close to my heart. I’ve been involved with it for a long time. It’s something that I give to, but it also gives a lot back to me too.”
Powers has been active with Special Olympics for several years now. He started with the organization when he was with the Colorado Rapids and continued to be a part in Orlando. He noted how great the spirit was with Special Olympics and said that “they do a really good job of making dreams a reality.”
He is constantly involved in the community and works to make it a better place to live in. When asked if there was one moment that stood out to him, Powers had to think. He said he couldn’t pick just one but instead described his latest community outing.
“This week they had a Special Olympics camp at Winter Park High School, and I popped over just to say hi at the end,” said Powers. “They introduced me to the campers and literally right after they introduced me several kids come over. One kid comes over and gives me the biggest hug and just holds me and won’t let go. We never met before, which for some people might feel weird but it was a really beautiful moment of just like, ‘I don’t care who you are. I’m just going to embrace you.’ So that was a special moment, and that was just the other day.”
While Powers does a lot in the community, he said that goalkeeper Adam Grinwis is the “Community Leader” of the team. Powers mentioned many players on the team do a lot of charitable work, but none as much as Grinwis.
Orlando City and Pride players went to the Arnold Palmer Hospital a few weeks ago. The players met with a soccer player named James who was diagnosed with bone cancer that stopped him from playing. According to Powers, Grinwis heard about James’ story and “roped in the whole team, and we all went, and that’s all Adam.”
Those local to Orlando may take athletes being a part of the community for granted. It seems that every week there is a story about Orlando City or Orlando Magic staff and players taking part to help out in the community. However, not all cities have this support, and Powers says that helping the community is vital.
“A lot of people think it’s a one-way street: an athlete just helping the community, and that’s good for the community. But it’s also good for the athlete,” said Powers. “I hope many athletes can realize that being a part of a community is just as important as helping to serve that community because it just makes you a more well-rounded person and I think that everyone will be well served.”