Turramurra native, HaydenTucker, 21, is taking the United States by storm as he transfers to a top soccer college early this year.
The young star has spent the last 18 months playing for Quincy University in Illinois on a full academic and sports scholarship.
He’s had a huge impact on the field and has adapted well to the US style of the game as he’s got many offers from top soccer colleges.
“Yes, it’s been a whirlwind experience for me and I feel incredibly fortunate to have got those offers,” he said. “I’ve decided to accept an opportunity to play for Young Harris College, near Atlanta, Georgia, under head coach Mark McKeever.”
McKeever is a very successful university soccer coach in the US with a .714 winning percentage. He’s led the Young Harris team to success in the NCAA Division II National Championships four years in a row, with several of his players going on to play professionally.
Tucker started playing soccer when he was 3 – “ever since I’ve been travelling around,” he said. In Australia, he reached the NSW National Premier League playing for the BonnyriggWhite Eagles FC, where he captained the under-18s.
He said he’s looking forward to the competitive environment he’ll be entering. “Young Harris will challenge me as I play with, and against, stronger and different players. I’ve learnt a lot from my experience at Quincy but I feel it’s now time for me to take another step up – it won’t be easy, but I’m ready. I feel like my best skill on and off the field is my work rate and mentality.”
“I dig in deep and work both sides of the field [offence and defence] – I’m a bit of a workhorse and I feel like that’s been key to my success.
“I’m looking forward to improving my quickness and becoming faster with my first steps to the ball – along with using my body to play a more possessional style, which Young Harris does.”
He expects the move to jar a bit but the experience from his first move 18 months ago made fitting in to a new team and new school easier.
He’s kept high academic levels while at Quincy, having got the Brother Gaffney Distinguished Scholar Award for a 4.0 grade point average while playing high-level football. He knows good grades played a big role in getting so many offers from top colleges.
He was picked for the regional Lone Star Conference XI team while playing in a Texas summer league.
“It was a real confidence boost for me as it meant I was actually sliding into the American style and improving my game quickly.”
He briefly returned to Australia for the holidays and his brother’s wedding but heads off to Young Harris College soon to start the new chapter.