RSL's Kamler has a passion for all things related to Disney
His family, friends and teammates might sometimes tease him about being goofy, but honestly, Real Salt Lake's Brian Kamler simply likes the guy.
Goofy, that is.
And Mickey, and Donald and Pluto, too.
For while Kamler has translated one of his passions into a long and distinguished pro career in Major League Soccer - he's a 10-year veteran of the league who mans the holding midfield spot for RSL - he has turned another into a lifelong hobby centered around one of America's most iconic corporate institutions.
Dude loves Disney.
"I'm a 33-year-old who likes cartoons," he says. "Just because they make you smile. You look at a lot of the work that Disney does, whether it's parks, films, radio . . . it just brings a lot of smiles."
Yet Kamler is not just a guy who watches cartoons on television.
His interest in The Walt Disney Company has extended over the years into every facet of it, from its history and corporate structure to the
way it develops its characters, runs its theme parks - Disneyland in California just last week began an 18-month celebration of its 50th anniversary - and shapes popular culture.
"It's all over the place," he says.
Though he downplays his expertise, Kamler is a veritable encyclopedia on the subject.
He can cite the year that "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" became the first full-length animated film (1937), the name Walt Disney originally intended to give his superstar mouse (Mortimer) and why visitors will find garbage cans approximately every 17 feet on the grounds of Walt Disney World in Florida.
"Because Walt gave somebody a piece of gum with a wrapper and he waited to see how long it took for them to throw it on the ground," Kamler says.
Naturally, about 17 feet.
Kamler discovered his Disney interest while in high school in St. Louis, about the time he was beginning a soccer journey that has carried him to an All-American career at Creighton University and turns with four other MLS teams since joining the league for its inaugural season in 1996.
"I came home from a party late one night," he says, "and I had a big glass of milk and Double Stuffed Oreo Cookies, I can remember. Watching TV on a Saturday night, probably 'Saturday Night Live,' and my sister had just gotten 'The Little Mermaid' on videocassette. So, I just kind of popped it in and started watching, and I was like, 'Man, this is kind of good. This isn't a bad story.' "
From there, Kamler was hooked.
At first, he was fascinated simply by the cartoons.
"I just started getting interested in how somebody could take a drawing on a piece of paper and make it come to life," he says.
Then, he began getting interested in everything else.
"I just enjoy learning about the different stuff," he says.
All of it, pretty much.
Kamler can trace Walt Disney's life and times, explain how the company has changed since his death in 1966 and note the astounding breadth of its corporate reach - from its film production companies like Miramax Films and Touchstone Pictures to its network television properties like ESPN and ABC-TV and its string of Broadway productions like "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aida."
"It's such a deep company," he says.
Heck, Kamler even owns a piece of it.
His parents bought him two shares of company stock as a graduate gift, mostly because the stock certificates feature pictures of many Disney characters.
Yet Kamler has invested a bit more in the company since then - "but not too much," he says - while also visiting most of its theme parks around the world, reading a library full of books about it, and taking care to buy a Disney comic book in each foreign country he visits, to include in the impressive collection of Disney memorabilia that populates the Draper home he shares with his wife, Suzanne.
"I think it's something that has rubbed off on her a little bit," he says.
Teammates and friends still occasionally give Kamler a hard time about his hobby, but he has grown accustomed to it.
"The funny thing is, anytime anybody has given me the business - whether you have something that's Disney on, or you mention something Disney - there's always a smile that seems to come with it," he says. "Even if they're making fun, it's kind of like a laughing thing."
Just a little goofy, you might say.
Tips from the expert
Want the best "insider" experience at a Disney theme park?
Real Salt Lake's Brian Kamler suggests taking the "Keys to the Kingdom" tour at Walt Disney World in Florida, where guides reveal many of the behind-the-scenes tidbits about the park. "Everybody's name that's on a window on Main Street is somebody who has been important to the company or who was significant," he said.
The five-hour tour costs $58 and includes lunch. For more information, go to http://www.disneyworld.com and search for "Keys to the Kingdom" tour.
Brian Kamler file
EXPERIENCE: 10th MLS season. Selected by RSL in the fourth round of the 2004 expansion draft.
PERSONAL: He and wife Suzanne live in Draper.
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