Not many high school students get to fly around the country in free Major League Soccer gear or get a chance to play against the best young soccer teams in the country.
Then again, not everyone is Fischer Gallinger.
Gallinger, a senior at Gig Harbor High School who recently committed to Gonzaga University, plays left defender for the Sounders Academy, a team comprised of some of the best young players in the area. The Seattle Sounders FC pays for travel expenses and gear, but Gallinger said the connections are the biggest attraction.
“There’s a lot of perks that a lot of teams don’t get,” Gallinger said. “The coaching and everything you get from it is amazing. It’s an incredible experience. I’ve played with them for like 2 1/2 years now, and the coaches know every college coach you can think of. They know all the connections possible, and they really give you every tool you need to be successful in soccer, if you want to be.”
Gallinger has to drive about an hour every day to Tukwila, where the team practices, but he said the connections and level of competition make it worth it. Even Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid watches some of the team’s games.
Gallinger said his favorite experience is the annual trip to Florida, where the team plays against some of the country’s fiercest competition.
“There’s probably like 75 college coaches watching your games,” Gallinger said. “You’re playing games against teams from the East Coast. You get to see all the talent across the United States. You’re playing against everyone in the nation, which is pretty fun. It really shows you how much harder you need to work to be where you want to be.”
Gallinger committed to Gonzaga in Spokane because of its proximity to home and the academics.
“A big part is, it’s close to home,” he said. “I didn’t want to go too far, like on the East Coast. They have great programs I’m looking into. I’m looking to study pre-law, and then do something with a business degree.”
While the Zags have struggled the past few years, they recently have crawled back into the top 25.
“They have a soccer team that’s up-and-coming,” Gallinger said. “They had a rough time at the start of last year, but now they’re already ranked. They’re trying to turn the program around; they’re trying to sign some good kids. They’ll have some good talent for next year.”Reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.