Whitehorse’s Callum Ryan welcomes new challenges.
This past season the 17-year-old soccer player changed from forward to defence. Next season he’ll be changing continents.
“It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself past your normal limits,” said Ryan. “I think that’s a big problem here. Most kids feel too comfortable here. I decided to leave my comfort zone and go to Arizona, and now I’m going to leave the continent and go to England.”
“You have to keep adapting and evolving,” he added.
Following his second season with the Real Salt Lake Arizona Academy, Ryan signed up to attend and play for the York St. John University in York, England in the fall.
Scouts from York St. John spotted Ryan last year at a showcase tournament in Las Vegas. Soon after, the scouts sent him an email to see if Ryan would be interested in checking out their school’s program. He didn’t exactly jump at the chance.
“I didn’t take it too seriously for a bit because I was still looking at American colleges,” said Ryan. “But in the spring I checked it out again and it looked pretty good, so in May I went down there to check out the program and it was really good.”
Ryan, who grew up in Dawson City and moved to Whitehorse at age 12, liked the program – he loved the soccer-crazed character of England culture.
“The cultural difference is crazy. I caught a game over there; I caught the FA Cup final because my favourite team is Manchester United and they happened to be in the FA Cup final,” said Ryan. “Soccer – football for them – is bigger there than hockey is for us. It’s all people can think of.”
The York St. John men’s team plays Division 1 of the York Football League. If all goes well, Ryan, who is enrolled in a three-year strength and conditioning course, will be playing matches twice a week with the team.
The university is affiliated with semi-pro team Tadcaster Albion A.F.C. that won the premier division of the Northern Counties East Football League this past season.
“The company that runs the school’s soccer program also owns a semi-pro team,” said Ryan. “So if you perform well at university you can also play for the semi-pro team as well.”
While playing with the Real Salt Lake Arizona Academy, which is affiliated with the Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer, Ryan was moved from left midfield to right back after he showed promise in the position last season while filling in for injured teammates.
At his new position he helped boost the team to a pair of tournament titles before an early exit in the United States Soccer Academy League playoffs.
“Our team was better than last season and we did well during the regular season, for the most part,” said Ryan.
“By the time we got to playoffs, a couple of the guys were injured.… We ended up getting two red cards in a must-win game and ended up losing that game.”
Ryan, who turns 18 on Saturday, played for Yukon at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
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