When Niall Rouse, a firefighter for the FDNY and EMT for NJ Mobile Healthcare, thinks about his most memorable Red Bulls game, the first one that comes to mind is the 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. He’s been a fan of the club since 1996 and agrees that it was his dad who instilled the passion for the game in him.
“Yeah, my dad, and then just continued playing, growing up as a kid,” said Rouse. “Still playing till this day in a non-profit organization.”
Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Rouse currently plays for the Brooklyn Bound Soccer Club as a left-back.
Because he’s another fellow Brooklynite, Rouse’s favorite player in the Red Bulls current roster is Kyle Duncan, although he also looked up to Dax McCarty, Tyler Adams and Connor Lade when they took the field for New York.
“My favorite player because we have a similar playing style, but he’s no longer at the club, is Dax McCarty,” he said. “I also liked Connor Lade, but I know he now works in the front office. But right now on the roster, I really like Kyle Duncan. He's also from Brooklyn, a fellow Brooklynite coming up. Tyler Adams was also great to watch.”
Soccer is part of Rouse’s daily life, so much he’s also part of a firehouse team.
“We have a couple of guys here that are soccer fans,” Rouse said. “We have a firehouse team as well, so we can play against the whole other firehouses in the FDNY.”
He’s managed to get several co-workers to watch the Red Bulls, but says that “they’re not diehard fans” yet.
The story of how he chose to take the career path he’s taken and make a living helping others started in a Gap store.
“I think it was back in 2009,” said Rouse, “I was working in the Gap as a Store Associate when we were working overnight, and a guy was opening up boxes with a razor blade and then he accidentally slipped and slit his arm open. And then at that point, as an instinct reactor I just grabbed a sock and some tape and addressed it right then and there.
“And then from that, we brought him to the hospital, via cab ironically, and then the nurse came up to me afterwards and said ‘You saved his life. He had notorious bleeding that you happen to stop with a sock and some tape.’ So ever since then I grew into the medical field at that point, and then went to become an EMT by 2010. And then I just became a firefighter in 2018.”
The last weeks have been difficult for Rouse, working in both New York and New Jersey. He’s been in the forefront of the pandemic.
“It’s been hard at times seeing a lot of death, and like people just being sad,” he said. “Dealing with their own issues, whether it be mental health, losing a family member, or they’re sick themselves. So I’m just trying to help people in that aspect.”
However as the light at the end of the tunnel starts to shine brighter by the day, Rouse believes that these difficult times will help make us better.
“I think we might have a resurgence of the roaring 20s hopefully. Everybody just comes out strong, understands what happened and really starts caring for each other,” said Rouse.
This week’s Homegrown Hero enjoys the family and community-based atmosphere the club offers, but he also has several wishes for the club to keep pushing for.
“I want to see us lift the Cup, keep beating NYCFC, always beating D.C. United will be a plus,” said Rouse. “What else we got? Hopefully we can just keep a red home jersey, and a black away jersey. Maybe bring up a MetroStars jersey in the future, that’d be ideal.”
Whether Rouse takes the field or the road to help somebody in need, the train of thought is always the same.
“100 percent, never give up, keep pushing,” he said. “Make sure you get that win.”