A Fateful Last Minute Decision
By Chris S.
The “College Soccer Journeys” segment tells the true stories of former EXACT Soccer College Training Camp athletes pursuing their dreams of playing college soccer. If you are interested in being featured in “College Soccer Journeys”, or you would like to nominate someone to be featured, email EXACT Sports at Director@EXACTSports.com.
Kevin Lopes, an 18-year-old from Danville, California, almost didn’t go to the soccer camp where he would meet his future college soccer coach.
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Lopes learned about the EXACT Soccer ID Camp from a few of his classmates just days before it took place in San Francisco. It was the winter of his sophomore year, and he was looking for opportunities to make connections with college coaches.
Perhaps it was fate that Lopes made the last-minute decision to attend. The striker/center forward met David Stockton, assistant coach of the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters soccer team, in one of the first drills of the morning. He remembers building an immediate rapport.
"It was the first time a coach had shown interest in me and it felt good. He complimented my game and gave me some tips for improvement, especially about picking spots of when to attack," Lopes recalled.
Lopes made some connections with other college coaches at camp, too. It gave him a sense of confidence knowing the options he had available.
“It was hard searching for schools and getting coaches to see you, but the EXACT Camp opened up my view to all the possibilities out there," said Lopes, who believes he otherwise would have had a difficult time finding the right fit amidst a sea of schools in his area.
Lopes followed up with other schools, but the connection with Coach Stockton was strongest. The two chatted via email in the weeks and months to follow, and Coach Stockton invited Lopes to attend a camp at Monterey Bay.
Finally, this past February around National Signing Day, Lopes officially committed to Coach Stockton and Cal State Monterey Bay and will join the team this fall as a freshman.
Lopes is excited for the future and looking forward to continuing playing. “I’m really looking forward to continuing playing in college and making new friends and relationships with my teammates,” he said.
In the meantime, Lopes has been hard at work preparing himself on the field for the next level. Over the past two years, Lopes helped lead his San Ramon Valley High School varsity team to a championship and another finals appearance. He’s also played for several clubs including this year for the Mustang Barcelona in the highly competitive NorCal Premier Soccer League.
Perhaps the accomplishment Lopes is most proud of is receiving an invitation to train with Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, a professional club in England. Lopes was one of 17 other student athletes from North America to get the opportunity. The spring 2015 trip to England was a highlight for Lopes. Over the ten days of training, he had the chance to learn from and play against professional athletes.
He’d love to someday play professionally in Europe. For now, though, Lopes is excited to begin his college playing career; he officially committed to the school in February and is eager to play for both Stockton and Head Coach Rob Cummings.