I have always felt it was important to dream big. Whether it is in school or soccer, I want to be passionate and never limit myself. I believe that the most powerful phrase in life is "why not me." I also know there is a massive difference between simply dreaming about something and actually doing something to try and achieve it. My "before practice" practice and "after practice" practice are well known to my teammates. Living in New England simply means that snow has to be shoveled before I can train - it is an extra workout and not an obstacle although I could do without the freezing fingertips of a February training session.
My coaches have described me as a game changer and I love to create goals for myself and my team. Of course, many creative players are not known for being tough but I pride myself on stepping through an opponents pass or tracking back to defend when I sense it is needed to stem a strong counter-attack. I am constantly self-assessing and trying to add to my game at every chance. Many players forgo the cones for free kicks as a method of practice but not me. My calmness on the ball is a result of constant work and instills confidence in my teammates that I can make a special pass or take pressure off them in a tight game.
My hard work has paid off in that it has resulted in some really great coaches who believe in me and have opened doors for me. I have been recommended to trials at several English clubs and have earned open invitations to return to several of them. One of my most successful trials was with Accrington Stanley. They were surprised with how technical and creative I was for an American and I have an open invitation to return to play for their youth team and train with them over a longer period of time. It has been a fantastic experience as these trials are not the usual tours but rather entailed being dropped into a team and forced to fight for respect in the locker room and on the field. It also gives me a confidence boost to know that my coach, who has worked with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Callum Macmanaman and Ross Barkley, is willing to stake his reputation to have these clubs take a look at me. Ultimately I try and repay his confidence in me every day with the sweat needed to make sure I am better every time I return to the U.K.
While I have had successful trips in the U.K., I am also focused on the opportunity that college provides. I have worked really hard to balance getting very strong grades with the time and commitment it takes to pursue my on the field dreams. I know that my commitment to both will pay dividends as I progress to college. Having turned down academy soccer for the chance to play for my high school, I am looking forward to playing for my school at the next level. I love the special nights that bring out crowds to cheer for us and against us. There is nothing like playing well in front of a hostile crowd to make for a great bus ride home. As an undersized sophomore I had double digits in goals and assists with the added pressure of taking almost every free kick and corner for a conference finalist team loaded with seniors. Teams and fans would be merciless in their comments but my mental toughness allowed me to not only survive but thrive.
I also had the opportunity to play in the CSL USA U23 league this past year. As a fifteen year old playing against men, I learned how to adapt my game and think and play faster on the field. It was a fantastic experience that saw me start for the team and really advance my game. Playing in that environment against college players gave me the confidence to know that with continued hard work I can thrive at the next level.