Like their counterparts in other sports, whenever pro soccer players get some free time, they partake in a wide variety of leisure activities. Some like to play video games while others hit the links. However, for second-year FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd, his time away from soccer is spent doing something a bit different.
Loyd is an Oklahoma native and an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys fishing in his spare time and during the off-season, also goes hunting back in the Sooner State. So, it shouldn’t surprise many that his newest hobby away from the pitch is archery.
He recently purchased a bow from a local sporting goods store and practices whenever he can.
“I sighted it up myself. I go online and read some forums and chat rooms trying to get an idea of how it’s done. So far it’s gone great,” Loyd said. “It’s nice working on your bow and actually being able to know what to do if something’s going wrong. It’s a good experience and hopefully as life goes on, I can teach some other people that are interested [in learning how to shoot a bow].”
Since the backyard of his current residence in DFW is about a half-acre, he has plenty of room to shoot whenever he feels so inclined.
“I have a bale of hay and then I have little targets set up,” Loyd said. “We go out there. When the sun starts setting, we go out there, turn on some music, hang out and shoot.”
While he only recently bought his own bow, his interest in archery dates back for some time.
“I actually started in high school. One of my friend’s dads had a bunch of fake deer and stuff out back. We would just go back out there and have competitions like PIG with basketball. We’d shoot and play PIG. That kind of got me started,” Loyd said.
However, once he headed to North Carolina, his hobby had to take a back seat to his studies and his responsibilities with the Tar Heel soccer team.
So, why does he do it? Well, it’s pretty simple.
“It’s really relaxing. It’s like fishing. I can go out back or I can go to a range, kind of relax, shoot and take my mind off soccer or anything that’s causing stress or anxiety,” Loyd said. “It’s kind of peaceful to just be able to be out there with your friends and do something outside of soccer.”
Last year, FCD didn’t have much of an off-season after playing in MLS Cup for the first time in franchise history. This Dallas right back is hoping their season doesn’t end again until late November, this time on a winning note. No matter when it does conclude, he knows he will want to take his bow out and do some hunting.
“I’ve already been talking to a lot of people. Actually some guys on the team might want to go on a trip after the season, so that would be cool. I have a lot of friends and family back home that have land, so I’ve already been talking to them about going out on their land,” Loyd said. “They’re more than willing to take me out and have a go at it. I’m excited and looking forward to that.”
And he already has a pretty good idea about what sorts of game he will pursue once the season is over.
“I definitely want to hunt deer. If I can get back [home to Oklahoma], I’d like to do some rabbit hunting. If I have enough time, I’m going to go to Colorado and try to get an elk or something,” Loyd said.
He’s currently the only member of the FCD roster who shoots a bow in his down time, but he hopes that changes in the future, especially since several of his teammates have asked him about his interest in archery.
“Yeah, they’re kind of curious but right now, the season’s so busy,” Loyd said. “I think once the season calms down and it starts getting a little cooler, some of the guys will come over and shoot the bow a little bit.”
Every professional contract has certain activities that are strictly prohibited no matter whether it’s during the season or the off-season. Skydiving, bungee jumping and even pick-up basketball are among those activities that are prohibited by most teams.
However, Loyd is thankful that archery isn’t among those activities listed in the fine print of his MLS contract.
“No, there are a few things you can’t do. I’ve looked at the contract and there’s nothing in it about archery, fishing or anything of that nature. If it ever becomes a problem, I think the coaches will let me know because they already know I fish and hunt,” he said.
Even though FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman and the rest of the coaching staff are well aware of his archery away from soccer, they haven’t asked him much about it.
“They don’t say much. They like guys to have things to get their minds off things. They’re more than happy when guys have hobbies to get their minds off soccer, relax and spend that time with friends and family,” Loyd said.