Friday, October 15, 2004

Shooting the breeze with Jason Southward

Express Staff Writer

Jason Southward

If you look up scoring records for the Wood River boys? soccer team, at the top of the list is Jason Southward.

In his three years on the Wood River varsity, Southward, in his trademark red cleats, slotted 81 goals and won back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999 under coach Brian Daluiso.

Now a senior striker at Albertson?s College in Caldwell, Idaho, Southward is making similar strides for the Coyotes.

Southward is currently sitting in third place on the all-time scoring list with 50 goals and trails second place Derek Jordan by five goals and leading scorer Matt Blazek by 19.

?I was hoping to beat the record, but I think it?s too late now,? Southward said. ?I have not been putting too many balls in the net this year. I think I have eight, where at this point last year I had something like 16.?

Southward said he has been adjusting to a three-forward set instead of the typical two-striker alignment he grew up playing.

?It?s not as a direct route to the goal. There are more options,? he said.

Born in Santa Clarita, California on March 8, 1983, Southward moved to the Wood River Valley when he was nine with parents, Glen and Heidi, and older brother, Wes.

A soccer player since the age of five, Southward was at the forefront of a burgeoning soccer boom and it carried him to all the way to Caldwell and the Coyotes.

We spoke with Southward on Wednesday.

JZ: Do you remember the first friend you made when you moved to town?
JS: Yeah, Ryan Skahill. He was my first buddy. We played soccer together from the time we were little.

JZ: When did you start playing soccer and when did you know it was your sport?
JS: I started when I was five and then we moved to Idaho and I played in the Blaine County Rec. program. When I moved to Idaho, I also played baseball but it got to the point where I didn?t like it anymore and club soccer was available. I started playing Sawtooth United when I was 13.

JZ: Who are some of the coaches you remember and what did you learn from them?
JS: Tim Kirby and Victor Vandenberg. They were Sawtooth coaches and I think I learned the most from them. They taught me the basics. Jack Dies was probably my favorite coach. I was older then and on a really competitive team. Brian Daluiso taught me how to work hard. He definitely taught me how to work on a different level. I think that is how we won state. We just ran everyone into the ground. I liked them all.

JZ: What was your favorite game ever as a Wolverine?
JS: When we won state when I was a junior. Twin Falls scored in the first five minutes. Then we scored and got the game winner with time running out in like the 85th minute. (Southward neglects to mention he scored both goals.)

JZ: Have you had any wins on the college level that compare to winning state?
JS: Last year we won a spot to go to regionals. We beat Concordia to go to Canada. That was pretty awesome.

JZ: What is the difference between playing high school soccer and college soccer?
JS: The level is a lot higher at college. It?s a lot faster play. In college I walk around with a lot more bruises. The first time I stepped onto the field as a freshman, I got hurt so bad. It?s a lot rougher. It?s more physical.

JZ: Did people know who you were and what you had accomplished when you got to Albertson? That you had scored 81 goals in high school?
JS: No way. No one even knew who I was. They were like, ?Where did you come from?? It?s a bummer because there are a lot of good players that come out of the Wood River Valley. It?s kind of lame. Kids from the Valley don?t get looked at much. But I think it?s getting better. Everyone I play with is from Boise.

JZ: Do you keep up with how the Wolverines are doing throughout the season?
JS: Yes. I asked my mom the other day and she told me the team is undefeated. That?s pretty cool.

JZ: How did you end up playing soccer at Albertson?
JS: I had a tryout at Seattle-Pacific. In all honesty it didn?t work out for me. I went to tryout and got through tryouts, and then I got cut. At the last minute we called (then) coach John Calpin at Albertson and got a tryout. My mom and I flew from Seattle and everything fell into place. All the guys were really cool. I liked it a lot.

JZ: What is Caldwell like?
JS: The town is a little different, but around the campus is really fun. I stay on campus most of the time. I live about two blocks from school with one of my soccer teammates.

JZ: What is game day like for you?
JS: I try not to think about it as much as possible. I get too nervous. If you think about it too much you get negative. I wake up and hour and a half before the game. I sleep in a lot here. I try and get something light to eat. About an hour before we go into locker room talk about the game and then we warm up.

JZ: What are your fans like?
JS: Our fans are the best. We get anywhere from 300 to 500 people a game and they cheer like crazy. They are great.

JZ: What is the best part of being at college?
JS: I like the freedom. You?re not in class that much. You do a lot of homework, but it?s more of a social deal. You can go out during the week.

JZ: What do you hope to do after you complete school?
JS: Well, this is hard. My coach and I have been talking. He thinks that I should try and go another level. But the way I have been playing I don?t know. It depends how I do these last four games. I want to finish college on a good note.

JZ: What would be the next level for you?
JS: I want to play in a serious league. I want to play in a good league.

JZ: You said that you have been playing though a rut. Have you done that before?
JS: I have definitely had a couple of them. Especially, how fast I grow. In high school I grew six inches in one year and I couldn?t even tough the ball.

JZ: That sounds physical. Is this rut mental?
JS: Yeah, I think it is. This year we have had a different style of coaching and play. But in the last three games I scored four times so I think I am getting out of it.

JZ: Do you still wear red cleats?
JS: No. I actually wear black and white. A lot of the time if you wear flashy cleats the defenders on other team will hurt you more. I have all white cleats and a definitely get whacked a little more.

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