Switching from a game of hitting to a game of finesse can be difficult for a linebacker. Football and Futbol , translated to soccer, may only differ in a few letters, but the true differences, in fact, go way beyond.
Leaving his job as team manager, junior Joey Fiel took on the challenge of trying out for the soccer team this past fall. Despite only having played his freshman year, the inside linebacker made the team.
“I’ve always loved [soccer],” Fiel said. “[It] used to be my favorite sport and it’s just fun because you can’t play by yourself.”
Team melding is no issue since Fiel has perfectly blended into the team, and enjoys playing with all of the guys. A usually closely bonded team enabled Fiel to slide right into a group that already has a deep connection with each other.
“He fits right in,” senior captain Parker Miller said. “He jokes with us, messes around, and he knows when to get serious, so he’s perfect for [the team].”
Preexisting relationships helped Joey fit in as well. During the summer, Fiel and Miller both attended the Young Life camp in Colorado and developed a “brotherly bond” that has transferred onto the soccer field.
“He’s a real good friend to me,” Miller said. “Together, Joey and I had to get Shawn Hamilton to go on this big swing at the camp, and Shawn’s deathly afraid of heights, so Joey and I had to sit there on the swing for like 20 minutes trying to convince Shawn to let go and do the swing. That was pretty fun.”
The junior football player instantly moved from a game where the goal is to hurt the person on the other side of the ball to a game where the goal is dodge the person on the opposing team. While he has picked up on some aspects of the game quickly, his skill level still has far more to improve on.
“Joey is surprisingly really good for what you expect from a football guy,” Miller said. “The skill is getting there, but he definitely works really hard and he does everything he’s coached to do, which is awesome.”
The 5’9″ 190 lb forward outweighs most of the soccer team. Coach Damion Simmons believes Fiel’s presence makes the team “a lot more intimidating.”
“He fills out a jersey a little bit better than some of the other guys,” Simmons said. “It’s nice having him on the sideline and out there playing because he runs people over.”
The difference between the two sports is defiantly noticeable to Fiel. The contrasting skills need for the game make this switch much more of a challenge.
“Football, you just have to be an athlete, hit people, and run around,” Fiel said. “Soccer, you have to control the ball and know where everyone is.”
While he may not be starting now, Joey can earn his way into the role, and surely has the drive for it. Coach Simmons described the dual-sport athlete as “all out” and full of “heart.”
“It’s a big transition, but he’s doing real well,” Simmons said. “If I need something done, he’ll do it, [and] I don’t have to ask him to do it. I love the guy, there’s no doubt.”