Men’s Soccer Summer Spotlight: Louis Evans
Davidson student-athletes are scattered near and far during the summer months. Few remain in and around Davidson, but most are out in the world taking a break from campus life. However, all are staying fit and preparing for their respective upcoming seasons, while adding extracurricular experiences to their development. Below junior Louis Evans shared with us his 2018 summer experiences.
After finishing two years at Davidson, it is a much different feel to be going home in New Zealand. Initially, I had to warm to the culture shock knowing I’d be away for a long amount of time made it hard to leave my friends and family. However, just like everyone else, I’ve formed some great relationships with students on campus and had some good times with these people. I now struggle to leave campus as much as I do leaving NZ and I could easily call either environment a home.
The majority of my time is initially spent getting used to the time difference and the cold back home (yes, it is opposite seasons in the Southern Hemisphere). The first part of my break is just a low-key time for hanging out with friends and family and planning out what I want to get done in my time off from school. This time round, I was fortunate enough to have an overseas football (soccer) opportunity, to train with Aberdeen FC who is a professional football club based in Aberdeen, Scotland. So, most of my focus and day-to-day routine early in the summer at home was geared around preparation for this trip in the form of training with a local football club and doing individual work in the gym with lift guidance from our Davidson strength trainer, Chad. In between training, it was great to catch up with close mates, be a part of some 21st birthday celebrations and to explore some of New Zealand’s South Island with Megan Goodling – who plays on the Davidson Woman’s Soccer Team and was across for some study abroad.
One of my goals during the off-seasons from college football (soccer) is to put myself into different training environments so that I can gain as much knowledge of the “world” of football and ideally continue to learn and make improvements to my personal game. The opportunity to train with Aberdeen Football Club was something that I jumped at as it provided an experience with a club that has a well-respected history and very high standing within the world of football. Most importantly, it was another chance to be put outside my comfort zone. I knew that I would be training with the club’s reserve team, where the players are on contracts and so the quality of football would be good and perhaps their attitudes to new players could be somewhat hostile, given that new players in the team are often seen as rivals.
The 18 days with the club really gave me a proper taste for what youth players must sustain on a daily and yearly basis, as they strive to make their way up the ranks into professional football. During my stay, I moved in with an older couple that already housed two full-time players and lived about a 20-minute bus ride from the club. In the first couple of days at the club, it became obvious that all the younger reserve team players were at the helm of the first-team players – who played in the top division of Scottish football and in European tournaments. We would not leave for training until all the “jobs” were done, often making sure that the first-team coaches and players had all that was required for them so that they could put on their cleats and run out onto the stadium pitch. The same rules applied for after training – waiting for the first-team players to leave their locker room so we could clean up after them. The training sessions had a great intensity about them. The players all had a clear desire to outperform their teammates, which generated a competitive atmosphere. Five to six coaches and staff would travel with the reserve team to a training area near to the club in order to keep a close eye and give constant input to the players throughout the session. This was great as it maintained a discipline and quality to the session on top of the player’s intensity and work ethic.
I am very excited about the Davidson upcoming season. There is a great team culture that we have within our current group and with the additions of a number of driven coaches and a strong incoming class; I think we will perform better on the field as a result.
While the summer is a good chance for us to recuperate and refresh ourselves to come into preseason with the highest intensity, it is also a crucial time to rebuild and maintain as close to match fitness as possible in order to make the transition into the upcoming season as smooth and successful as possible. For this reason, we implemented a competition type fitness schedule that the team has used in the past, where the boys’ are split into three groups and are given final scores (as these groups) coming into pre-season, based on various fitness tests that were given out every couple of weeks throughout the Summer. This sort of organized regime has been hugely beneficial for the team as it has given training structure, an ongoing connection between the players and a competitive edge that maintains a desire to perform 100% outside a team-training environment, ultimately engraining the “team-first” mantra that we thrive on.
It is a privilege for me to be given a leadership role in the team this season, however I realize that it is a privilege that I have to continue to earn every day. My role as a captain over the summer break has been the same as everyone else in the team – staying in touch with the boys and following the guidelines given by our well experienced coaching and training staff to ensure I come into this season ready to perform at my best.