Soccer was always going to be my passion and profession in life, but the opportunity to travel from England with two of my friends, enroll in Tyler Junior College and play for the Tyler Apaches in 2009 and 2010 was life changing. Coming here straight from England was an adventure, and I really had no idea what to expect. If you had told me then, that coming back to visit TJC this past December would be like coming home, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But I can tell you now, it’s true. In fact, Kyle Nicolls, one of the friends who came over with me, is now an Assistant Coach at TJC. I had spent most of my youth at Norwich City FC Academy. My dream was to play in the English Premier League. While studying at the college of West Anglia, I broke my right foot three times in half a season. The third injury required surgery. I sort of bounced around from club to club for a while and didn’t really know what to do. The doctors told me I would never again be physically capable of playing at a professional level. I was crushed. But I’m very stubborn, so I didn’t believe it. I told the surgeon I would prove him wrong. But the clubs in England sided with the doctors and decided not to take another chance on me. Then I met Joe McLaughlin, a Scottish recruiter who used to play for Chelsea. He runs Soccer Icon USA, a company that offers trials and sports scholarship assistance for kids interested in studying for a college degree in America. Thanks to Joe, my two friends and I landed a trial in London. After only 10 minutes, we were basically told they had seen enough and asked us where we wanted to be. We just decided to go for it! I guess we didn’t know much about the US college set-up, but we thought it would be fun. I had started to worry my dream of a soccer career wasn’t going to be a reality, so when McLaughlin offered me the opportunity to get a free college degree and play for a team that wanted me, I jumped at the chance to start over. I remember a lot of people saying to me that if I go to America, then my football, or soccer, career is done. They told me I was never going to be a professional. That’s the one thing that stuck in my head. In a weird way, it kind of helped me. It drove me to want to make the most of the opportunity that TJC and Tyler Apaches Coach, Steve Clements, was offering me. And I did. Coach welcomed me with open arms. Being able to make good on his faith in me, and help TJC take home its first two national titles in 2009 and 2010, was the best feeling ever and really kick-started my comeback. If I can help and attract a few more players to TJC, then I always will. Since graduating, things have been crazy. But I try to find out as much information as I can and always keep up with the guys. My visit back to TJC in December was actually perfect timing. I needed a break following the MLS season and to spend time with people who really care.
- TJC Hero and Friend Dom Dwyer graduated from TJC in May 2011. He continues to be a huge supporter of Apache Athletics and Men’s Soccer since his time here in Tyler. While at TJC, Dwyer was a member of the 2009 and 2010 National Championship teams that had a 2-year record of 41-0-1. He was named the 2010 NJCAA National Player of the Year before moving on to play at the University of South Florida. He was drafted by Sporting KC in the first round of the 2012 MLS Draft. In 2013, he spent time on-loan to Orlando City SC (USL Pro) where he scored 4 goals and was named the MVP of the USL Championship Game. He also scored the winning goal over Houston Dynamo for Sporting KC to claim the MLS Eastern Conference Championship and go on to win the 2013 MLS Cup. Dwyer was named Sporting KC’s 2014 Offensive Player of the Year and Co-MVP.