Just Another Walk In The Park For Wahl
Sept. 9, 2002
For some 18-year-olds starting college is a period that involves mixed emotions. For most, it involves endless nights calling home, frightened at the new world that lays before them, sad for the world that has been left behind. Then there are those few freshman who say their goodbyes never looking back. Tyson Wahl, a starting center-back for the 2002 California men's soccer team, is one of these few.
The 6-2 defender from Newport Beach brings experience to the table that few his age, let alone few people at any age, have experienced. Wahl has traveled across the world to seven different countries to play his sport.
At the age of 17, Wahl was chosen to represent the United States and play on the under-17 national soccer team, a chance only a handful of players receive. To represent your country for the sport that you love the most is a true honor.
Throughout his junior year of high school, when most kids his age were experiencing the typical high school life - prom, finals week and parties - Wahl spent the year living in Florida playing soccer in a residency program.
He was one of 25 athletes chosen from across America to play on the under-17 national squad.
'We had private schooling every morning from 8 am to noon, but school was pretty easy and not the main focus of things,' explained Wahl. 'Practice was from 3 to 5 pm daily and every other day we would lift weights in the evening. On weekends we traveled everywhere throughout Florida to play games, mostly against MLS (Major League Soccer) and college teams.'
The team also traveled to Portugal, training against club teams that are equivalent to second division MLS squads.
Though his team never beat a MLS team, they did fend off a few ties against the tuff competition.
'Playing with players that are mostly better than you and some that you are equivalent in talent with helps you to develop quicker,' noted Wahl. 'The main difference is that it's a faster game, you come out playing harder and you can't expect a bad player on the field.'
When the year in Florida came to an end, Wahl was just getting started. He made the second round of cuts for the under-17 national team, one of 18 chosen to represent his country. With this team, he traveled to Trinadad-Tobago to play at the youth under-17 world cup.
'We didn't do too well,' remembered Wahl. 'We played three games, but two of the teams in our bracket (France and Nigeria) ended up in the final game.'
Trinadad-Tobago was just the start of where Wahl has had the opportunity to play. He has also traveled to Boliva, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico and Canada to compete.
'Switzerland and Germany were the most fun,' said Wahl. 'The environment was cool. Our field was right next to the Swiss alps.'
During his senior year at Newport Harbor High, Wahl was invited to an under-20 national camp in Mexico, along with now Cal teammate Troy Roberts, to try-out for the team.
'We played well at the camp,' said Wahl. 'They called us back but we couldn't miss any more school. They didn't like that so we haven't received anymore calls.'
When asked about what he thought about the whole experience, he smiled and remarked that it was an honor. 'It took a long time to hit me,' said Wahl. 'Probably when we left Florida is when I realized what I just did.'
Working his way into a starting position, Wahl has quickly adjusted to life as a Bear, making an immediate impact on the field. He has started and played in all four games this year, helping Cal to a 1-2-1 record, including a win over No. 7 Portland.
'It was great to bounce back from the first two games that we weren't too proud of,' said Wahl after the win against Portland.
His life at Cal thus far has been a good transition. 'Since I've already moved away for a full year, I'm not home sick and that's one less thing to have to deal with,' remarked Wahl. He added how it took him a good week to familiarize himself with his new hometown.
'Berkeley is a little different from Newport Beach,' said Wahl. 'It took some time getting used to it.'
The Bears host the sixth annual adidas Bay Area Classic this weekend, games starting Friday, Sept. 13th and finishing play Sunday, Sept. 15th at Edwards Stadium. Three teams will travel to compete in the Classic, including Denver, St. Mary's and Stanford. The first game of the tournament will feature No. 1 (Soccer America) Stanford and Denver at 11:30 am, followed by Cal taking on St. Mary's at 2 pm. On Sunday, Cal continues with play facing Denver at 2 pm. St. Mary's takes on Stanford at 3 pm Sunday at Stanford to conclude the tournament.
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