Different routes to a soccer player’s success

Junior, Jae Pallas steps up to score. Pallas is a new player this year, and coming from the U.S. National Team development, she is loaded with potential.

Ashlyn Miner

Junior, Jae Pallas steps up to score. Pallas is a new player this year, and coming from the U.S. National Team development, she is loaded with potential.

In soccer, the avenue to become a professional athlete is different than other sports.  Soccer players are faced with difficult decisions at the start of every season. When high school seasons begin, athletes must choose whether they want to commit to playing to a high school team, professional team, club team, or even league. This is not a new rule that is a result of the pandemic but it is crucial to keeping the athletes safe. Girls’ head coach, John Roberts explains this rule by saying, “[They] are not allowed to compete in both high school and club at the same time. It is to prevent athletes from being overused. Playing and practicing that much can be harmful to an athlete.” 

Most athletes determine which team to participate in by considering the opportunities that they could potentially be offered. Junior defender/midfielder, Jae Pallas states, “For me in terms of recruitment and my future after high school I chose to play for this team to get some stats for college out.” Pallas was in the development for the U.S. National team but chose to play for Perry when the rules were abruptly changed due to the pandemic. She explains that this was because playing for a school team would help her get recognized by colleges. Although the change to playing for a school team full-time was sudden, Pallas explains that even though the transition was different, it was not difficult because of the bond that the girls have. “On the high school team, everyone is your best friend. It’s definitely about a common goal but also friendships and what you are carrying outside the field.” Pallas remarks. Roberts adds that their bond to each other is the team’s strength. “They are truly one unit,” he notes adding, “There is nothing stronger than that.” 

Junior, Landon Carter also had his future in mind when he chose to sign with Phoenix Rising, Arizona’s highest level pro-soccer team. He played on varsity his freshman and sophomore year but decided to make the decision to play professionally. Carter explains, “The biggest factor in choosing to play professional soccer and let go of club and high school soccer was the benefits I would have long term and the chance I would have to play a longer professional career.” Carter describes the process of committing to a professional team. “I had been out to practice with the professional team and I knew the goalkeeper coach. He was the one who called me and asked if I wanted to sign a pro contract.” Pallas and Carter as well as their teammates have full schedules and have to juggle school with their personal lives as well as their games and practices. This is no small task, Carter explains “every day is a little bit different, but my life is consumed by soccer.” Even though athletes may choose different avenues to play soccer, each decision is an individual one, but their goal to play soccer longterm is the same. There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to playing soccer.