Chattanooga FC Academy has a club-record number of players in US Youth Soccer’s Region III ODP Pool. Two female players (Sydney Morris and Ashley Grant) and one male player (Andrew Prescott) have already been featured as a monthly Athlete Spotlight. This month, we featured the fourth player who is a newcomer to our club.
We are thrilled to welcome Alex DeRusha and introduce you to him. Alex transferred from FC Alliance in Knoxville, where he still lives. The high school junior commutes 2-3 times per week to Chattanooga in order to be part of CFC Academy. His primary position on our 01 Premier team is right back. But he can play center back and defensive mid when needed. Alex is a driven individual who has specific plans to reach his goal of playing in college.
CFCA: What are some of the obstacles being from out of town and having to travel?
Alex: The biggest one is pretty obvious, the traveling. During the summer when we first had practice it wasn’t that big of a deal because I had all day to get down and come back. With school starting it’s a little challenging but I have some fairly easy classes. I set my schedule up that way so I would have time to get down here and get in a good practice.
CFCA: As a player, why do you think it is important to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses?
Alex: That’s important because if you’re not evaluating them you don’t know if you’re getting better or not. I think a big part of playing club soccer is improving your soccer and yourself as a person. Just getting ready for the future whether it be going to college or playing in college. You have to see what you're doing and what you need to do to improve. And if you don't measure that you won't know.
CFCA: What do think are some of your strengths are as a player?
Alex: I'd say my biggest strength is probably one on the one defending. I feel like I'm pretty physically capable on the field.
CFCA: And then of course, what are some of your weaknesses?
Alex: Dribbling on the ball and being confident in my passes. Those two things are my biggest weaknesses because I have not played soccer as long as some other people. So I am working on getting my dribbling and passing in general up to par.
CFCA: Have you set any goals of your own?
Alex: I sent a couple at the beginning of the season. One of which is to have at least seven college coaches talking to me by the end of the season. Another one is I would like to win the State with the team. That is another big goal of mine. The last one is I would like to improve on my weaknesses.
CFCA: What do you think personally is a coach’s role in helping players achieve the goals that you’ve set?
Alex: One of the biggest parts is figuring out what your goals need to be. If you have a player saying “I want to be on the National Team by the end of the year,” maybe tone it down a bit. Step-by-step… we’ll get one and then move onto the next. I think setting it is the first part that a coach can help with. Then after that figuring out what the player needs to do to reach their goals and giving them instruction on what to do. Sometimes as a player you have the right idea on how to reach your goal but don't know how to execute it without some planning.
CFCA: What are some of the specific steps you can take to reach your goals?
Alex: One big thing I am doing is being proactive in my recruiting and I have been for a year and a half now. Anytime I know a college coach is going to be somewhere I emailed them ahead of time to introduce myself. On the second goal to win state I think I can just work hard at practice. If I am in proving then the team is improving. Then we can just get better as a team. Then on the third one to get better with my foot skills and attacking… just extra time on my own at home on the ball. Drills. Nothing fancy just getting touches on the ball on my own. I think my confidence will improve on the ball. If I'm working on my weaknesses and the rest of the team is working on their weaknesses then we will improve.
CFCA: You’re traveling over two hours to get here two times, and sometimes three times, per week. You’re obviously a driven individual. What can you do daily and weekly?
Alex: I try to reevaluate myself. So by doing that and always keeping it in the back of my head it is always with me. Another way is write down and have them somewhere. It's not in your face all the time but it is somewhere that you see every now and then. It's a reminder that I need to be doing this if I forgot to do my foot drills one night.