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Soccer players look to advance careers

Dustyn Hessie
Staff Reporter

When it comes to professional sports, dedication and hard work are everything and five NIACC soccer players are taking their game to Florida for more exposure to pro teams this summer in hopes of developing their skills.

Trojan soccer player’s freshman Nick Regan and sophomores Mike Unwin, Sam Broadbent and Derrick Best signed contracts on January 28 to play in the Player Developmental League (PDL) this summer.

Freshman Alex Kem will follow a similar course as well playing for the Super 20 and U-19 in slightly less competitive leagues in Des Moines.

The PDL enables college soccer players to compete in a professional environment while allowing them to keep their amateur status as athletes.

The avenues each individual has taken have brought forth hundreds of competitions, heartbreaks and moments of joy. And Best, the team’s leading defensive player, has toured three countries trying to market his skills to a professional soccer club.

One of the countries, England, is one of the world’s great soccer talent hot spots. “In London so many kids are trying to do the exact same thing as you,” Best said. “For me, coming to America was like an American going to London to play football, everybody in America’s not playing soccer, and everybody in London is not playing football,” Best said.

Since NIACC graduate Andy Scott and Best came from London three years ago, many others have followed suit and have fond experiences from NIACC.

Just ask midfielder Regan.

“My first NIACC goal, I just came back from injury and we were under pressure against Wartburg with NIACC up 2-1, and then I scored from the outside area to secure the lead with ten minutes left,” Regan said.

Graduating from NIACC will not mean graduation from soccer for these five determined Trojans.

The one American born of the five has plenty of big-game experience and doesn’t plan on ending it at NIACC.

As a 15 year old, left-winger Kem played on the Olympic Development Team against some of the best soccer players in the nation.

“I will take my soccer career as far as I can and I won’t give up,” Kem said.

Kem’s not the only one who has high expectations; Regan shares similar dreams and seeks self-excellence after his tenure at NIACC.

“I want to go all the way... After NIACC I hope to get picked up by a decent school and with a lot of hard work make it to the MLS draft and therefore play at the highest level,” Regan said.

Before NIACC, these players had their own agendas, and are constantly attempting to prove themselves worthy of playing the game they love despite the obstacles.

Although Best’s parents are from Barbados, he spent most of his life in London when Coach Mike Regan approached him.

Despite his concern about living so far away from home he was intent on becoming a better soccer player.

He said soccer has been his life since he was just a child.

“I’ve played soccer all my life, even when I sleep I play soccer,” Best said.

The defensemen plans on attending the University of Central Florida after he’s finished polishing off his game this summer in the PDL.

Kem started playing soccer for his local team at age 4 and has played club soccer since he was 11.

When it came time to attend college, Kem said he planned on attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, but signed with NIACC to remain closer to home and play for Coach Regan.

But said he must work very hard and possibly change positions for his team.

“I’ve played every position and I’m confident I can play wherever I’m needed,” Kem said.

NIACC forward Mike Unwin found out about NIACC at his stepsister’s wedding.

“At the wedding, (Head Coach) Regan came up to me and proposed a move to America which was too good to turn down,” Unwin said.

In the last two seasons, Unwin has scored a team-leading 59 goals and said he believes as long as he can get in the right place at the right time that he could conjure up a centerfield spot in the MLS.

“I plan on taking my soccer career to the very top of the MLS, I came overseas to make it and I’m going to work my hardest to get there,” Unwin said.

Unwin will join Best, Regan and Broadbent with the Central Florida Kraze next summer with his mind on a Championship and the 2004 National Champion Central Florida Kraze will be a good place to start.

Regan (the brother of Head Coach Regan) is the only returning foreign player for NIACC next year and his seven years of soccer playing experience were put to the test when he arrived in America.

“I think last season I underestimated the soccer over here, and towards the end of the season I stepped up and began to have better performances,” Regan said.

Regan is excited about spending next summer with his teammates and has high expectations for the Kraze.

“We will do our best to help secure the Kraze’s second USL national title,” Regan said about spending next summer with the team.

Midfielder Broadbent has also been a standout at NIACC the last two years, and wishes to become a professional soccer player if the opportunity presents itself.

“My plan is to take my soccer career to the highest level... I want to play professional soccer and I’ve wanted it since the day I started playing,” Broadbent said.

Going pro is what many dream of regardless of what sport or career they choose, and these NIACC soccer players are about to embark on a seldom-traveled journey into what could culminate into a professional career in soccer.

“This challenge will make or break our careers, this is where we truly find out who can go to the next level,” the team replied happily when asked about their promising futures.