Sitting in a room overlooking Toyota Park in Brideview, Ill., the 26-year-old man swivels in his chair toward the camera to address the viewers on his web show.
Dressed in a green bro-tank and an expensive-looking watch, he looks every bit of the Southern Californian he is at heart, rather than the Midwest transplant.
“Welcome to another episode of Quincy time,” he says so quickly it appears he chugged multiple 5-Hour Energy Drinks right before filming.
“It’s my time, it’s my show, I do what I want!” he adds, with the last part spoken in a resounding falsetto that would make Frankie Valli envious.
“A great man once said that,” continued the former UC Davis striker, addressing the camera again. “That great man was me.”
The show is “#QuincyTime,” a web series produced by the athlete: Quincy Amarikwa, and the Major League Soccer team that employs him: the Chicago Fire.
Today, Amarikwa is up to his latest shenanigans, and don’t forget: He does what he wants on “#QuincyTime.”
Despite claiming to never have played baseball in his life, the speedy forward heads to a local high school baseball field to take on one of his friends in a home run derby.
Picking up the bat with the form of a polished MLB veteran, Amarikwa belts line drive after line drive until hitting a bomb over the 360-foot mark in center field on just his ninth swing of the day.
Other recent episodes have seen him take on teammates in a spelling bee and a penalty shoot-out, or pretty much doing anything he wants (because he does what he wants on “#QuincyTime”).
After watching his athletic prowess and trash-talking, you expect the cocky, me-first athlete who has the audacity to start himself on his own MLS fantasy team.
Instead, you hear a calm voice and slow cadence explain how he’s worked hard to get where he is today. Every word is measured and calculated before it is spoken as if he’s thought extensively about how to present himself to the public eye.
And it turns out that he has.
Heading to his website, which is just as good-natured ridiculous as “#QuincyTime,” you see that Amarikwa gives his status as an athlete fourth billing.
“Entrepreneur-Mentor-Marketer-Professional Soccer Player,” reads the heading on QuincyAmarikwa.com, which is placed next to a silhouette of his famous “dead fish” goal celebration.
“I’ve always played soccer and I enjoy playing soccer, but at heart I’m really an entrepreneur and I’ve always known that I’ve always been good at making money, wherever it is,” Amarikwa explains. “Whatever I’ve been doing at a particular time, I’ve found a way to make money doing it. Through that, I started my marketing and online digital solutions company, OBI Marketing Inc.”
OBI Marketing Inc. is one of many of Quincy’s business adventures, which include consulting for businesses and professional athletes, teaching website design and social media and helping with product creation.
“I like inspiring other people to pursue their passions and teach them ways to create a business model around an idea or something they enjoy doing, especially online, because I’m big on leveraging tools to help create and do things for you,” he said.
When asked about the breakout season that he’s having, he speaks of hard work and that’s it. He talks about the various ventures outside of professional sports that he’s embarking on right now.
He wants people to know two things: 1. In order to be successful, they must work hard; and 2. He is more than just a world-class athlete who has blown by MLS defenders this year for a team-leading six league goals.
After playing 602 minutes his rookie year with the San Jose Earthquakes — against whom Quincy started and played 60 minutes in a 5-1 loss Wednesday night — he bounced around the league, never topping that total in four seasons split between four teams.
This year, though, things are different as the Fire hired Frank Yallop, who drafted Amarikwa out of Davis. And for Amarikwa, the breakout success on the field has come hand-in-hand with his breakout success as a leading personality in MLS.
“I know what I’ve been doing over the last four years,” he said. “I’ve been doing the right things, I’ve been playing well, I’ve just been looking for my opportunity, for coach to give me an opportunity. I knew that if I just continued to do what I’ve been doing over these last couple of years, Yallop would give me the opportunity.
“(Before the season) I got all the PR people together and said, ‘I’m going to do what I need to do to play this year, so knowing that, let’s start working out things for once that happens that we’ll have in place and start building for when I start playing,’ ” he added.
“I said, ‘I want to do a web series show where we’re emphasizing different things within the league. We can kind of turn it into what we want.’ We kind of sat down and brainstormed before the season started about what we wanted to create over the year.
“The last two years leading up to this, I’ve spent a lot of time, energy, money and focus on learning how to build a website and learning how to market myself professionally online. So I had all those things in place for when I did start playing and did start scoring goals, I’d have the platforms to build out and capitalize on that momentum when it happens.
“All this time has kind of been years in the making. This is just kind of the ultimate goal starting to come to fruition. A lot planning and effort and energy went into this stuff. It didn’t just happen.”
These sentiments are echoed by longtime Aggie men’s soccer coach Dwayne Shaffer, who discovered Amarikwa as a 17-year-old at a youth tournament in San Diego.
“Quincy went into the Earthquakes preseason (in 2009) and I don’t think that they were prepared for how strong a player he is,” says Shaffer, who coached Amarikwa for four years in college. “He played all through the preseason games. I believe there were 10 preseason exhibition games and Quincy was the leading scorer.
“The first Major League Soccer game of his career comes around, and Quincy doesn’t see any time,” Shaffer added. “When you’re a 21-year-old player and you’re the best kid in college and one of the leading scorers in the country, it was a shock to him. It was the first time he ever had to sit on the bench.
“Over the time, he became frustrated because he felt like he was better than the guys that were playing in front of him,” he continued. “Not any Major League Soccer coach was going to put their job on the line with a rookie.”
When asked about Amarikwa as a person off the field, Shaffer immediately brings up “#QuincyTime.”
“Quincy is a comedian. Even though his persona on the show makes him seem a little egotistical, that’s not how he is in life at all,” Shaffer says. “He’s very funny. I’m not surprised that Quincy is doing so well on a show like ‘#QuincyTime.’ He gets along well with his teammates and he’s a funny guy. He’s always full of ideas. I think on the show, you see the good side of Quincy right there.”
As Shaffer goes on to describe Amarikwa’s competitive spirit, hard-working personality and legendary exploits in the locker room, the image shifts from an arrogant forward to a driven and well-rounded human being who just happens to be a professional soccer player.
“I’m always looking at things as, ‘What are you doing today to prepare yourself for tomorrow?’ ” Amarikwa says. “I think a lot of people see a lot of people who are successful and they assume that that success just happens, that they just got lucky.
“You don’t realize regardless of who it is, a lot of time, energy, effort, work, money goes into that ‘overnight success’ or what might be viewed as overnight success.”
Because for Amarikwa, there is no such thing as giving less than 100 percent. There is only hard work, competition and maybe a few ridiculous goal celebrations.
That’s the way he wants it, and Amarikwa, well, he does what he wants.
— Reach Evan Ream at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam