YORK, PA – It can often be difficult for Division III student-athletes to continue their playing careers at the professional level.
But it is not impossible.
One of those reasons why it is not impossible is the InfoSport, Inc. organization that recently held a professional soccer combine for aspiring men’s players. From January 6-8 in Sanford, Fla. a trio of senior Spartans headed south to participate in the combine in hopes of extending their careers into the professional ranks. Ryan Hock (Brookeville, Md./Sherwood), Brett Sauerberger (Little Silver, N.J./Monmouth Regional), and Travis Williams (Springfield, Pa./Springfield Township) were each invited to participate in the event and chose to do so.
“We first heard about it when Jon (Ports) got his invite,” Hock, York’s starting goalkeeper this season, recalled. “Then we received ours when Coach Ludwig handed them to us at the Mary Washington game – it was kind of hard to stay focused during the game actually. It was such a privilege just to get that letter asking me to come.”
Hock, Sauerberger, and Williams each accepted the invitation and then, after the season was over, began putting in extra work to prepare.
“We hit the weight room and did extra work (after the season) with Coach Mustard,” Sauerberger commented. “We worked a lot on speed and agility while continuing to develop touch by using a small skills ball.”
Even with the extra preparation, each of the three Spartans believe that playing at York had a huge impact on their ability to perform well at the combine – and possibly the next level.
“I remember coming in as a freshman and being overwhelmed,” Williams, an all-conference midfielder, said. “But this year gave me ten times more confidence than when I came into the program. Going to this combine will be like me being a freshman again, but if the confidence I gained from this year carries over then I should be fine.”
“Playing on this team, I have already gotten to play against some of the best players in Division III,” Hock said. “Going against teams like Messiah and Johns Hopkins and getting to go far (in the NCAA Tournament) has definitely helped.”
“The level of play here really helped my development,” Sauerberger said about his four seasons with the Spartan squad. “The hardest part about being an athlete is doing the work in the offseason, when no coaches are around. But by doing that extra work it has helped me realize that if I work hard then I can achieve what I want.”
At the combine, over 200 players from around the country participated in the three-day event, which consisted of drills, small-sided, and full-sided games under the direction of former Major League Soccer coaches as well as current United Soccer League mentors.
“We were spilt up into different teams,” Hock said of the three York players. “The first day there we trained some then played full-sided. The second day was mostly small-sided and full-sided contests while the third day we played full-sided.”
Overall, the three seemed pleased with their performances.
“I was able to make a number of good saves and did not get scored on during my time in the full-sided games,” Hock said. “There were some really good players down here, but Travis, Brett, and I were all pretty happy with how we played.”
Now the Spartans must wait to find out if they made an impression.
“We all get an evaluation of our play that other coaches can look at,” Hock said. “We are all looking forward to seeing what comes of it.”
Currently, the United States is home to a minimum of four
professional outdoor leagues with the highest level being Major
League Soccer (MLS). There are also two United Soccer League
divisions (USL–1 and USL–2) as well as the Premier
Development League (PDL). Additionally, the Major Indoor Soccer
League (MISL) is the top division for indoor soccer in the United