Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis is hanging up his cleats after nine seasons in Major League Soccer. His retirement was officially announced on the Union’s website and social media accounts Thursday morning.
A huge heart, incredible passion, & unwavering loyalty from Club to Community, we’re proud Ray wore our badge for his entire career. Good luck, Ray, & 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙠 𝙮𝙤𝙪.
— PhilaUnion🛡 (@PhilaUnion) March 4, 2021
Gaddis started the announcement by thanking God for all the opportunities he’s had in his career.
“I first and foremost want to thank God for allowing me to have the career I’ve had,” he said in the team’s statement. “I’m truly blessed to have played professionally for nine seasons and for the experiences, friendships and unique moments that have come with it.”
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Gaddis spent all nine seasons with the Union, who selected him in the second round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He is the club’s all-time leader in MLS regular season appearances (221), starts (211) and minutes played (18, 702). His retirement comes after the most successful season in Union history that saw them win the Supporters’ Shield as MLS regular season champions.
Gaddis, who is featured in the Spring 2021 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine, explained in his interview for the story why his faith is the top priority in his life.
“God’s always made time for me, so I must make time for Him.” he said. “He is my priority. I know that I’m able to do all the things that I’ve been able to do because of the great I Am.”
The 31-year-old’s legacy as a member of the Union extends well beyond his contributions on the field. Gaddis is involved in numerous initiatives both in Philadelphia and his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. He also served as one of the 12 original board members of Black Players for Change, an organization formed by MLS players in 2020 to promote racial justice and work toward providing equal opportunities in the sport of soccer for everyone, regardless of race or gender.
When MLS teams entered a bubble in Orlando, Florida, for the MLS is Back Tournament last summer, Gaddis worked with Union team chaplain Andy Young and others to organize virtual worship and prayer nights available to players across the league. Now known as MLS Connect, the group continued meeting once teams returned home.
“We wanted to address some of the things that were of concern and of need in the bubble,” Gaddis told Sports Spectrum. “Mental health is a very important thing but being away from our loved ones, the greatest coping mechanism through all this and how we endured is the comfort and love and compassion of the presence of the Lord.”
In Gaddis’ mind, there is nothing accidental about the journey God has taken him on these last nine years.
“When I continue to seek Him first, He begins to give me energy,” Gaddis said. “He gives me the wisdom, the knowledge. He begins to give me understanding of what to do in the places that He has put me. I don’t believe it was by coincidence that I ended up in Philadelphia or in Major League Soccer.”
The Spring 2021 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine, which was printed before Gaddis’ retirement announcement, is now available.
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