Have you ever wondered what your favorite Fire players are like off the pitch? Well, we aim to please here at Always on the Inside. Each week we are going to sit down with a different player to get answers to those pesky Burning Questions.
In this edition we sat down with the easygoing Jay Nolly. A Littleton, Colo. native with a great head of hair, Jay had an incredible four-year goalkeeping career with the storied Indiana University soccer program, where he led the Hoosiers to back-to-back NCAA Division I National Championships in 2003 and 2004. Jay took some time to answer our Burning Questions about playing for legendary coach Jerry Yeagley, his love for the outdoors and why “Superman” just might be an appropriate nickname for the laid-back ‘keeper.
Always on the Inside: You’ve been living in Chicago for almost a year now. How are you liking it? Do you have a spot that you frequent enough to have a standing order?
Jay Nolly: My spot is actually Starbucks in the morning. There’s a little shop next to where I live. Me and my wife know all the girls that work there; we talk to them all the time. I usually have a 35 minute drive with traffic in the morning, so it’s nice to have a cup of coffee on the way. They see me walk in the door and they have it ready. I’m simple; I just get a tall, mild coffee with cream. The just know. They’re like, “Same thing? Tall?” And I’ll just say, “Yup.”
There’s a another place we go to once in a while; it’s called DMK, the burger bar. Whenever we go there I’ll have an Allagash White, so they’ll just ask, “Another Allagash?”
AOTI: You’re one of the few guys on the team that does not reside in the city. What’s the best part about living out in the ‘burbs?
JN: It’s easier for me and my wife. We both grew up in the suburbs. Neither of us have ever really lived in a big city; even in Vancouver we lived in the suburbs. You know, just having grocery stores and restaurants around, there’s less traffic, better parking, it was just less stress for us. We’re pretty easy going people.
AOTI: Do you have any pets?
JN: We have a dog, a Yorkshire Terrier named Hercules.
AOTI: You have been described as an avid fly fisherman. Have you found any good fishing holes in Illinois?
JN: I’ve been fishing a little bit; it’s back to my Midwest roots which is Bass fishing. I was on the IU Bass Fishing Team. I’ve gotten to Bass fish a little bit more. I’ve set up some things to meet friends once the salmon start running in the river to go fly fishing in Michigan City or down lower.
AOTI: Best fishing movie?
JN: It’s got to be “A River Runs Through It.” Great actors, great place.
AOTI: Do you like other outdoor sports or activities in addition to fishing?
JN: Pretty much everything outdoors, I love. When I was younger we did a lot of camping, white water rafting, canoeing. I have my own one-man pontoon boat that me and a couple buddies have taken fly fishing out on the river. But I pretty much just love the outdoors. I grew up with two older brothers and we were pretty much in the mountains all the time.
AOTI: What was it like winning back-to-back national championships with Indiana University?
JN: It’s unreal. That’s just one of those things, you’re playing for a school, you’re in college. I was younger but the history that the school has to keep that tradition going, especially cause it was Jerry Yeagley’s last year and then it was Mike Freitag’s first year my last two year. It was sending Coach Yeagley out on a great note because he’s probably the iconic figure for college soccer. It’s something that I feel is so fresh even though it was eight, nine years ago.
AOTI: What was it like to play for Jerry Yeagley?
JN: It’s unreal. He respects every player and all he really asks of you is to give an honest effort. He doesn’t like people to cut corners. I think that’s why the school has done so well over the years is that they just get honest players that work hard.
I’d play for Yeagley over and over again. It’s just the person that he is; he still calls his players. I got a call from him last week and I’ve been out of college for nine years. He still reaches out to players; that level of respect that he has for people that he’s coached is just unreal.
AOTI: There are currently five people in the front office who also went to IU, so we have a few Hoosier-themed questions for you. First off, which pizza place do you prefer: Mother Bear’s, Mad Mushroom or Avers?
JN: Can I say Pizza Express? The Big Ten. It was a large pizza, ten breadsticks and two Cokes; that was the go to. It was $10 or $11. That was the best when you got cheese and ranch dipping sauces. That was the go to for us, we only did Pizza Express.
The soccer team was kind of sponsored by it but the cups were the best cups to have; they had IU Soccer on them. If you put ice and anything in them, they were just the best cups. We had like 35 of them at our house. I don’t know what it was about the cups, it was just one of those things.
AOTI: Best Bloomington bar: Killroy’s-Sports or Nick’s?
JN: That one’s tough because I knew some of the guys that worked at Nick’s and I have a jersey that’s hanging up in Nick’s. That’s the classic place. For happy hour and a college lifestyle it was Killroy’s. But now if I were to go back, it’d be Nick’s for sure.
AOTI: Favorite Indiana movie: “Hoosiers” or “Breaking Away”?
JN: “Breaking Away.” One, because I’ve jumped off those same quarries that they went to. And Little 500 is just awesome. “Hoosiers” is such a classic but I would say “Breaking Away.”
AOTI: Switching gears now, while you were in Vancouver you saved a young pitch invader. First, how does it feel to be a hero and second, how often do you deter pitch invaders?
JN: I’ve had people run across the field before but that was the first time that someone was actually close. It was just a little kid and he was running out and laughing. I think he got away from his brother or something, and just started running onto the field. Luckily the ball was on the other half. The only thing I thought about was to get him off real quick, so I picked him up and turned around but no one was there to hand him to, so I had to run over to the side. Luckily the ball never came down to our end but they kept on playing; nobody stopped the game. So it feels good to feel like a hero, to save a life.
AOTI: Who would you consider your celebrity doppelganger? We want to get your thoughts first because we have someone in mind.
JN: When I was younger, people thought I looked like Heath Ledger from “10 Things I Hate About You” because of my nose and smile or something.
AOTI: We think Dean Cain.
JN: I’ve heard that. And also the other guy that played Superman later. Brandon Roth. In Vancouver the weight trainers called me Superman; they said I looked like him but only when he was Superman. I don’t know, usually when I show up to training I have my hair done and I look presentable, so they would just always call me Superman, cause that’s just what I look like, I guess.
Follow "Superman" on twitter: @jaynolly