The University of South Florida soccer defenders Estefania Fuentes and Grace Adams are not your typical college athletes, because both play soccer for their countries national soccer team.
Fuentes plays for Mexico’s and Adams represents Ghana’s national soccer team.
“In the national team you are representing a whole country, like everybody is paying attention to you and you need to be focused and know you can have fun, but with responsibility, because it’s not only you or your university,” Fuentes said. “It’s millions of people on your back.”
Coming from opposite sides of the world, both players are strengthened by their strong religious beliefs, which they believe is the key to their success. Adams says she always prays.
“I talk to my God communicate with him to give me the strength and remind me off everything that I learned in the field that my coaches taught us,” Adams said. “That is what I always do all the time.”
While both athletes continue to have a successful season, they also face challenges within the team.
“The language is a huge difference here at USF,” Fuentes said. “The language comes slower than Spanish so I have to be more focused.”
The language barrier does not intimidate either player. Both defenders strive for a victorious season finale at USF.
The USF Men’s Soccer team faces their toughest challenge of the year on Tuesday against last year’s College Cup runners-up, Clemson.
USF (4-3-2) started the season slowly after a string of injuries and other issues forced key players to miss time. For many teams, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but Coach George Kiefer loaded the schedule with big names like Maryland and Virginia Tech early in the season.
However, a long stand at home gave USF time to get sorted out and start a winning streak. The Bulls won three games straight at home before defeating UCF on the road Saturday.
“It’s a great boost for us,” said senior Nazeem Bartman. “As you know we started off the season a little bit slow, but we’ve won the last four games now, it’s a great confidence boost for myself and the rest of the team too.”
Players wouldn’t emphasize the game too much, but Coach Kiefer had a bit more to say about the visiting Clemson Tigers.
“I’d hate to emphasize one game more than the next, but I would take my hat off to Mike Noonan,” Kiefer said. “He used to be a Brown [University] so he’s used to teams not wanting to travel to him. So the fact he’s at Clemson, willing to come back to us, I give him a lot of credit for that. We’re very excited to have him here.”
The Bulls and the Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Tuesday.
Tom Feely has always had a passion for coaching football. Feely, a father of six sons, took a special interest in kicking when his son Jay Feely wanted to transition from soccer to football.
“When he was between his freshman and sophomore year in high school, we started going around to who were the gurus at that time,” Tom said. “We learned from different individuals and kind of created our own hybrid style, and it worked very well for Jay.”
Jay went on to become an NFL kicker and just finished his 14th season in the league.
After his success with Jay and the knowledge he had gained about the mechanics of kicking, Tom began teaching other students. He later founded Feely Athletics, which began teaching the technique of kicking, but has evolved into teaching every position in football.
“He’s constantly willing to learn new things and do research and wants to be the most knowledgeable person there is in this. He’s not doing it for the money or anything, he’s doing this because this is something he really wants to do. He loves being able to affect so many lives in a positive manner,” Tom’s son Tyler Feely said.
Feely Athletics has become very successful over the years. Coach Feely has coached 14 players that have made it to the NFL including his son Jay, who played with the Falcons, Giants, Dolphins, Jets, Cardinals, and Bears; Cody Parkey of the Philadelphia Eagles and Matt Boscher of the Atlanta Falcons.
Feely Athletics’ coaches teach students the importance of consistent routines that help them get better.
“I’ve seen great improvement. Every time I come out here, I’m always getting better,” Dalton Kocsis, an Armwood High School junior, said. “I strive for that and I feel like I’m getting that here.
Jesuit High School sophomore Camden Bauman says he will compete for the varsity kicking job next season and believes Feely Athletics will give him the edge he needs to win the job.
“I’ve made tremendous strides over the past couple of years with my kicking,” he said.
Feely Athletics will be breaking ground for the Feely Soccer Academy in about a year.
“We’ve already purchased land for that and are starting to develop our soccer fields, so through the outreach to all of those kids we hope that we’re going to be able to impact, as we have, many more kids down the road,” Tom said. “That’s my goal: to make our reach as big as possible.”