The highlight of my summer happened on July 28, though it started like a typical summer morning.

I woke up, brushed my teeth, applied deodorant and cologne, and took a shower. However, there was one thing that was atypical about this morning. An article I had written was published on Outsports. The article was about going to see my favorite athletes play live, and how Robbie Rogers of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer was the only one on the list whom I had yet to see.

Unfortunately, Robbie was suspended from the game I attended, and my attempt was thwarted. The story I was planning to write going into the event was not the same one I wound up writing. As an aspiring journalist, it taught me an important lesson: the unexpected can always occur. And although the focus of the story changed, the aftermath of the story was more unexpected in a good way.

Writing about my experience at the Dynamo-Galaxy game was only the second time I had written for Outsports. I had seen the attention previous article had received, but I didn’t expect this one to get so much traction so quickly. I received compliments about the article in Twitter messages and emails, but one of the tweets came from somebody I had never expected: the subject of my article, Robbie Rogers.
Shell-shocked didn’t even begin to describe my reaction. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to people like me. I was in an empty frozen yogurt joint when the notification popped up on my phone. I had to read it a few times to realize what happened and that it was real. I tried to mask my excitement as best as I could, but my role model had just tweeted at me. It’s amazing how something as simple as a tweet can be the highlight of someone’s day, week or year. Robbie, and other professional athletes, might never understand how much tweet really means to their fans. Then, I started sharing the news.
I showed my mom – she freaked. I showed my aunt – same reaction. I sent it to my "bro" group text – they flipped out. It was surreal, but it actually took a while for me to realize what the tweet read. What I didn’t read was that he was going to send me something from his friends at the fashion bag brand Proper Assembly. What?!?!! It was all happening so fast and I couldn’t believe it. The something that Proper Assembly and Robbie sent me was his No. 3 Robbie Rogers Cinch Bag.
Once I read more about Proper Assembly and this special bag, I saw the value behind it. Along with the purchase of every bag, a $25 donation to GLSEN would be made. GLSEN is such a great organization.It works to achieve a safe and affirming school environment for every student to be valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. I cannot thank Proper Assembly and Robbie enough for the gesture they made.

Robbie Rogers (Nate Poekert photo)
I love that Robbie Rogers is using his platform as a professional athlete and doing it to promote something he is passionate about: LGBT rights. This is the benefit of professional athletes coming out. They use their platform to inspire people like me to follow in their footsteps in standing up for what they believe in. That’s why I was so excited about what Robbie tweeted at me. Of course I was excited because my favorite athlete mentioned me on Twitter and was gifting me this awesome bag, but I want to find a platform that will allow me to inspire others. Robbie is passing the torch, and that’s why he continues to be my role model.
Again, thank you so much to Robbie and Proper Assembly for the bag and for their partnership with GLSEN. It really is changing lives. I can’t wait to show the bag off to my friends! And I hope that I can be an inspiration to people just like Robbie. Rogers. #MadRespect.

Jeremy Brener, 17, is a senior at Clements HS in the Houston area. He played soccer until an injury cut his career short, but it remains one of his favorite sports along with basketball and football. He can be reached via email ([email protected]) or Twitter (@BrenerJeremy).

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