"Youth soccer has given me many opportunities to advance, not only my soccer ability, but my development as a person. I would strongly recommend anyone with an interest in playing soccer to pursue the path in the Wisconsin Youth Soccer System.” - Austin Drake
My name is Austin Drake, and I am an intern at the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club for the fall season. I am also a Business Marketing & Management major at Wisconsin Lutheran College, and a senior on the Men's Soccer Team. Working at the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club has given me a great opportunity as it has allowed me to continue my involvement in club soccer that started at an early age.
I grew up in the small town of East Troy, Wisconsin, about an hour south of Milwaukee. I started playing soccer at the age of six and right away it became one of my passions. At the age of 11, I made the transition into the club soccer system, playing for Milwaukee Sport Club for six years. There, I was able to gain the experience of playing at the Wisconsin State League level. I eventually switched to another soccer club for my last two years of high school and started traveling weekends playing in the Midwest Regional League. Playing club soccer was quite the commitment for both my parents and me, but it was an experience I would do over again. Due in part to that commitment, I was fortunate to be able to continue playing at the Division III collegiate level at Wisconsin Lutheran College. During my summers in college, I worked full-time and trained with a U23 team.
Playing in the Wisconsin club system has given me the chance to advance my soccer career in many different ways. Not only was I able to grow as a player, but I established a number of close connections and relationships. Even years later, these relationships are ones that I still hold very close.
My involvement in the youth system provided me with many great opportunities to travel around the country as well. Seeing now how the Milwaukee Kickers organization operates, it has given me even a better appreciation for all that is offered in this system. Given that, I can definitely see myself continuing to be involved in soccer and hopefully be allowed the opportunity to give back. I believe I can give credit to the youth system for my opportunity to continue playing college soccer, and that is something I am very grateful for. Whether your child wants to try soccer for the first time, or wants to advance their game to the next level, I would recommend getting involved in the Wisconsin Youth Soccer System and experiencing firsthand all the benefits it has to offer.
One of the greatest things about being involved in collegiate soccer is the travel opportunities it has provided. My sophomore year, my team traveled to Seattle to play a couple of games and see a Seattle Sounders match. The WLC Men's Soccer Team also had the opportunity to go to England last spring. We were able to see Norwich City defeat Millwall and the upset defeat of EPL giants Manchester City last year to Burnley. We also had the opportunity to see a Europa League game as Everton took on Dynamo Kiev. The atmosphere of these games, especially visiting Turf Moor (Burnley's home field), was one of the best parts of the trips.
Also while in England, we were able to see many interesting things in London and Manchester as well as tour Arsenal F.C.'s, Manchester United's, and Liverpool F.C.’s home pitches. In addition, we were given the chance to tour Wembley, the national venue of England, and play two games against local clubs.
Soccer has given me an opportunity to evolve as a person and develop as a player. If given the opportunity, I would experience my soccer journey all over again.