Another Kid From Akron

Robby Dambrot talks about his rookie season with Loudoun, his dad’s coaching experience, and the other famous son of Akron, Ohio.

There aren’t very many professional athletes from Akron, Ohio. (I should know because I was born there and grew up in a nearby suburb.) One of the latest to join the ranks is Robby Dambrot who signed for Loudoun United FC this summer, alongside fellow Akronite, Shane Wiedt.

After playing together at the University of Akron and University of Pittsburgh, Dambrot and Wiedt are now playing together for D.C. United’s USL Championship affiliate. Describing the experience, he said, “Yeah, Shane and I have known each other since we were 6.  We went to the same grade school, rival high schools, and we played for the same club team, so we have been playing with and against each other for virtually our entire lives.  Off the pitch, he is one of my best friends as well, so it’s been incredible to share this journey with him.  Just a couple of kids from Akron, Ohio!”

Since signing with Loudoun in the summer, both Dambrot and Wiedt have played for the USL Championship club and started a D.C. United friendly alongside Wayne Rooney vs. Puebla. “I’ve loved it so far, ” he said about the beginning to his professional career. “I’m very thankful to Coach Ryan Martin and everyone at Loudoun United for giving me this opportunity, and I’m very excited to be here.  I think we have a great group of guys, both exciting young players and some experienced vets who have been in a lot of locker rooms.”

“I think the biggest adjustment for me has been the difference in the margin for error between the college game and the USL Championship.  Mistakes that may go unnoticed in college are punished at this level, so staying tuned in, alert, and focused is crucial.  But I had two great coaches in college, Jay Vidovich at Pitt and Jared Embick at Akron, that helped prepare me for this transition, so I’m very thankful for them and their staffs as well.”

While Wiedt’s high school alma mater is Archbishop Hoban, Dambrot went to St. Vincent-St. Mary, which you may have heard of before. Robby’s father, Keith, coached a guy by the name of LeBron James for two years at St. Vincent-St. Mary. The younger Dambrot is blown away by everything his dad’s former player has done for the Northeast Ohio city. “LeBron’s impact on my hometown was and still is nothing short of incredible.  As amazing as he is on the court, he is even more amazing off of it,” he said.

“Considering he is the greatest basketball player of all time, in my very biased opinion, that is really saying something.  Regardless of what he accomplishes, his loyalty to Akron and the people who have helped him never waivers.  His I Promise school is one of the most revolutionary educational institutions in the country, and the impact he has off the court never ceases to amaze me.”

While his father, currently leading the Duquesne University basketball program after a lengthy stint at the University of Akron, didn’t coach soccer, his coaching ability did help Robby’s growth in the sport. “My dad’s coaching experience was HUGE for my development as a soccer player.  He may not have known too much about soccer – although he may think he does now – but he always knew what it took to reach the next level.  He taught me everything I know, but the biggest things he taught me were how to work, how to compete, and how to handle adversity and prosperity,” Robby explained. “I can remember many long car rides home with my dad after my games.  I could have had 10 goals, but if my dad felt like I wasn’t playing hard…believe me, I would hear about it.  I had my biggest fan in my mother and my biggest critic in my father, so obviously I preferred to ride back home with my mom after games!  But I am so grateful for everything they’ve done for me and all the habits they instilled in me along the way.”

Some of the traits his parents instilled in him are key to his calling card as a soccer player. “I think the biggest things I bring to a professional soccer club are a strong work ethic and a winning mentality.  Everybody at this level has quality, but I think the mental aspect of the job is what catches some players.  I take pride in coming in to work everyday, giving everything I have, and trying to win every exercise,” Robby said. He also takes after his favorite player growing up, former MLS hardworking midfielder Ben Zemanski. “I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, and my parents took me to all of the University of Akron soccer games growing up.  I got to see some incredible teams over the years, and he was the heartbeat of many of them,” he said.

Like Zemanski, Dambrot is looking to carve out a lengthy professional soccer career. The next step is a midweek match tonight against Swope Park Rangers before the club faces Nashville SC on Saturday. Both matches will be played at Loudoun’s brand new Segra Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM Eastern Time for both fixtures.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.