MARCH 2018 - JAFCYA PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
1. How has the Armada Youth Academy experience been for you?
The Armada Youth experience for me has been nothing short of amazing. I entered the club when it was still JFC, and was involved in the program during the transition to Jacksonville Armada. I have enjoyed watching the club grow and flourish over the years. I began at JFC on the U13 Premier team as a shy little kid that was still making his way through middle school. As the year progressed, I worked hard on the field and spent lots of time off the field to get in the best shape I possibly could. As time passed, I began to see the results. The following year I moved up to the Elite team, along with a few of my teammates. nI made sure that just because I got to that next level, I was not going to stop working hard. So every off day and every canceled practice, I was out there doing something – running, working out at the fields, joining pickup games. During this time, the club had just started fielding teams for the United States Soccer Development Academy. Half way through my season, the USSDA coaches allowed me to attend some practices with the U14 DA team, just to get a feel for how they played and practiced. This was an extremely exciting experience for me, getting to play with a team at such a high level. A few weeks later, I was brought on the team as a Developmental Player (guest player) and then within a few weeks added as a full time player. The Armada Youth Academy has molded me into who I am today - the coaches, players, staff, and parents that have helped me along the way. I thank Coach Pat Cannon for all his guidance and giving me the opportunity to continue to grow as a soccer player. From giving me the opportunity to play with the DA team before I was officially on it, to the constant development from him that has happened since, Coach Pat has been a big factor in how I play today and I am very grateful to him.
2. Tell us about your recent College Commitment and the experience of going through that process.
I am very pleased to say that I am committed to the University of North Florida for the class of 2019. My experience going through the recruiting process was extensive. One piece of advice that I would offer is to be as educated as you can on the recruiting process and the rules, the more information you can learn about the college soccer recruitment process – and your role in it - the better. Next, I would say is to know that you will be nervous but you can’t let that hold you back. I remember my first conversation with a college coach was with the head coach of UNF, and I was so nervous my voice was trembling. I couldn't form sentences, and when he asked me how I was doing, I answered with “how are you?” not even remotely answering the question he just asked. The big point is that it’s okay to be nervous, and college coaches know that. So just be yourself and put yourself out there.
I began the search for my future college as a sophomore by touring various colleges. It didn't matter what college I was touring, because I wanted to get a feel for the different types of colleges - large, small, urban, rural, amenities, etc.. There are many choices out there and some people may want to stay close to home, live by the beach, or be in a certain area of the country. It was important for me to figure out what was best for me. I am very excited about being able to stay right here in Jacksonville. I loved the UNF campus the minute I took my tour and couldn't wait to see more. The soccer facilities, the support that comes from the university and program - are fantastic. And the food court is awesome, which just might be my favorite thing.
The recruitment began with a phone call. I was asked different questions. We discussed the most recent game he had seen me play in and many other soccer related questions. But what I believe was the most important to him were the questions he asked me, my goals, my values, about my family, where I've played, and other questions that pertained to who I was as a person, which meant a lot to me. After that came an unofficial visit where the head coach and assistant coach gave me and my parents a guided tour of everything athletic related and some of the other facilities on campus which I thought were unbelievable. I then got to see a short weight lifting session that the current UNF players were in and met some of the players. After that the coaches and my family sat down and had a good discussion and the coaches said they would love to meet again in a few days to discuss furthering my soccer career at UNF. We met again the following week and I was offered a scholarship to play for UNF and I verbally committed. Since I am a Junior, I am not allowed to sign a written agreement. That won’t happen until National Signing Day when I am a Senior at my school, Bartram Trail High School.
3. Who’s your favorite soccer player and team.
My favorite team would most likely be Manchester City in the EPL. My favorite player does not play for a professional team. My favorite player is Collin Scott, a center midfielder for UNF. I have been watching him for the entire year and he truly is a great player that works hard. Something that really stood out to me was that he was the first one to say hello to me when I observed the team weight lifting session and shook my hand. I was just taken aback that a player of that caliber would do that. It meant a lot to me and that is something I will never forget.
4. Advice for younger Armada players.
My advice for younger Armada players on the field would be to work hard, every practice and every game - and be the best player you can be. Be a good teammate and always give it your all. There are times that you will have a bad practice or game, but you cannot let that discourage you. And no matter what position you play or what team you are on, if you work as hard as you possibly can, you can be whatever player you want to be. And achieve whatever goal you want to achieve. Off the field, the coaches really do look at all your social media. Coaches mentioned that when I met with them. I was surprised at what they knew about me and it was all because of social media.
I am very happy to talk with any player who would like more information on the recruiting process and what I learned along the way. See you on the pitch!