Plattsburgh State’s sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Wilson’s passion and appreciation for soccer only deepened after taking a one-year hiatus from the sport and school to join the real world.
“Soccer has always been great to me, its given so much to me,” Wilson said.
However, the decision to withdraw from college and soccer after his freshman year at SUNY
Oneonta to pursue a career in the military was easy for Wilson.
“I didn’t really have a good fit with Oneonta,” Wilson said. I wanted to give soccer a break.”
Wilson had been playing organized soccer since the age of three and began feeling burned out from the sport he loved and started considering joining the Navy.
Wilson’s family has deep ties in the military. His great grandfather, uncle and both of his grandfathers served. Growing up, Wilson always had the military on his mind.
“I’ve always wanted to enlist for pretty much my whole life,” he said.
Before committing to service, Wilson kept a hectic work schedule. During his hiatus, he worked at a contruction job from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then at Planet Fitness from 3 to 10 p.m.
“Working that summer, I think he realized there’s more to life,” Jim Wilson, Wilson’s father said. “Then he slowly started getting back into soccer again.”
It was the combination of that itch and the recent hiring of Chris Taylor as PSUC’s men’s soccer coach that reeled Wilson back.
Taylor coached Wilson’s hometown premier league team in Poughkeepsie while he was in high school.
During the summer, Taylor was recruiting Wilson’s younger brother, who is in high school, to PSUC.
“I think that got Ryan thinking about school a little bit more,” Taylor said.
Wilson then contacted Taylor about places he could play soccer again.
“At the time, we needed a goalkeeper,” Taylor said. “When Ryan’s name popped up on my phone, I was like, ‘Oh this is meant to happen.’”
Before Wilson joined the team, Taylor laid out expectations for him.
“I told him: ‘You’re not going to come in and be the number one [goalie] right away. You’ve got to come in and earn it. If you come in and you’re not number one, you need to be the best number two or three,’” Taylor said.
Wilson’s desire to be a part of a team again was enough to where he paid no mind to the possibility of not being the starting goalie.
One change Taylor noticed in Wilson since reuniting was his maturity.
“He was like a puppy running amongst everyone,” Taylor said of Wilson’s highschool days. “You couldn’t get him to sit still. [Now], he’s got a real serious side to him and an appreciation for what the real world is like. It’s no fun being in the real world. I think he realized college is an amazing experience and needed to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Since Wilson has joined the team, three other qualified players competed for the starting role, but it was Wilson’s energy, skill, experience and athleticism that edged out his intrasquad competition.
Wilson quickly emerged as a leader on the team who pushes not only himself, but his teammates.
“When he talks, people listen,” Taylor said. “He’s got a competitive edge to his personality; he just doesn’t want to lose.”
Returning to school to finish his degree and continue playing soccer has been refreshing for Wilson.
“I definitely missed school,” Wilson said. “I was working full time last year, so transitioning to coming in and just doing school and playing soccer is better than just waking up every morning going to work.”
Wilson’s love for soccer hasn’t missed a beat since returning.
“Soccer has always stuck with me; I think it was the goalie position,” Wilson said. “I fell in love with it. You can’t keep me away from it.”
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