A Soccer Star Keeps Kicking

Aug. 1, 2007

By Sheena Nguyen
The Daily

SEATTLE -- The score is tied one-one. Sweat, dirt and grass stains encompass the scene. Fifty-five minutes into the game, sophomore defender Adam West receives a pass and fires a 20-yard bullet into the lower right-hand corner of the net, breaking the tie and making his first career goal for the Huskies.

The game was the UW's season opener against Cal Poly on a brisk, sunny afternoon in 2005. After that victorious moment, West contributed to seven of the Huskies' eight shutouts in that year.

West still wakes up every morning at nine in his U-District home and heads to soccer practice -- but no longer with the Huskies. Instead of attending classes like his roommates, with whom he has lived since he attended the UW, he drives to the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila for a grueling two-hour practice with his new teammates, the Seattle Sounders.

'My life post-UW has been my ideal situation,' West said. 'I am playing soccer for a living, which has been my dream since I was a kid.'

West was brought up as a self-proclaimed 'huge sports fan,' playing as many sports as he possibly could. He first tried soccer at the tender age of four and continued to explore other athletic interests over the years. Participating in so many activities became increasingly time-consuming. This predicament forced him to make choices as to which commitments with which he would actually stick.

'I loved soccer too much, so it always took the place of any other [sport],' West said, justifying his choice to play a sport he now performs at a professional level.

The transition began after four years as a letter-winner at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, where he played on the state championship team, which ranked first in the nation his senior year.

'I was a defender that played most of the game going forward in the attack,' West said.

However, the UW men's assistant soccer coach, Seth Spidahl, told West countless times that in order to play at the collegiate level, 'defending is your number-one priority.' West would later put this advice to good use in his career with the Sounders.

'I had to adjust my mindset to defend first, so it took a little bit for me to get comfortable. Now at the professional level it is demanded for the defense to do their job. My time at UW made that transition possible,' West said, acknowledging how valuable his two years with the Huskies were.

When he first joined the Seattle Sounders, West didn't realize he could actively play for the team until early this spring. As three-time champions, the Seattle Sounders wanted to rebuild their team with a worldwide talent search during the off-season.

'I had to start with the open tryouts in February all the way through cuts to pre-season in April,' West said. 'I didn't officially sign with the team until late April.'

'It just so happened Adam fell into our lap,' Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told The Seattle Times.

Proving that some things are easier said than done, West didn't recall the process as being quite that easy, referring to it as 'the longest and toughest tryout I've ever had.'

West's continual efforts seem to have paid off, as he is described as 'an energetic body always willing to contribute' on the Sounders' Web site.

Although he left the UW early in order to play for the Sounders, getting accustomed to life as a professional soccer player hasn't been too difficult for West. In fact, aside from the thousands of fans at Qwest Field on game days, his life still remains relatively ordinary.

A normal practice day usually begins with a 9 a.m. wakeup to head to practice, which starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. but can sometimes stretch out a little longer.

'I am encouraged by Coach Schmetzer, like most of the other younger players, to spend some extra time to work on our game,' West said.

After eating a good post-practice meal West heads home and, like most other college students, studies.

'I am still taking classes online to finish up school,' he said. 'So as soon as I get home I'm hitting the books.'Game days aren't spent too differently either.

'I usually spend my pre-game time playing Xbox 360, having some good healthy meals, and I watch a movie before every game,' West said. 'When I get to the locker room I usually have an energy bar and some Powerade, [but] other than that, I just like to joke around and relax.'

The players arrive two hours before games to deal with knocks and sprains they get from practicing every day and take care of business on the field, West said. After the game, they go out to dinner as a team.

The Sounders have recently continued their winning streak and moved up to second place in the United Soccer League (USL) First Division standings. They scored a 1-0 victory against the Rochester Raging Rhinos July 3 in New York -- their first win against the team since 1996.

Staying in the right place mentally during games helps West play well.

'During the game I am focused on what I need to do in each situation. I try to keep an aggressive mindset and give a lot of energy to the team,' he said.

This former UW defender is keeping his eye on the prize as the season comes to a close next month. West hopes to keep up with the Sounders and reach a goal equivalent to scoring a point for his team: finish school and play soccer at the highest level.

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