Augie McQuaig, Staff
Sophomore Jamie Orson is on the rise in his soccer career. Orson has played soccer since he was about 2 years old. “My dad says that I just picked flowers,” Orson said. He began playing soccer competitively with 8 year olds when he was 7. Until recently, Orson played other sports- like basketball. Orson started on the Druid Hills Middle School basketball team when he was in 8th grade.
Last year, Orson tried out for the Atlanta United Academy, a team that feeds into the MLS professional team, and didn’t make it. Instead, he began playing with Georgia United, which is a club said to be as prestigious as Atlanta United. His team played Atlanta United three times and beat them twice. “We felt that, maybe we were better than the players that they had picked over us,” Orson said. Orson said that he and other players on Georgia United that didn’t make Atlanta United felt that they had proved themselves to the team who turned them down.
Playing Atlanta United three times ended up giving Orson a chance to show the Atlanta United coaches what they had missed out on. After his season with Georgia United ended, he was invited to try out for Atlanta United.
This time, Orson made the team. Orson has grown close with his teammates and met Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and founder/owner of Atlanta United. Orson believes that Blank, even being busy owning two major professional sports franchises, is very involved in all of the Academy level teams of Atlanta United.
“Getting home late from practice on weeknights and spending all day at tournaments on weekends is worth it,” Orson said. “The thing taking the biggest hit is definitely my sleep schedule,” Orson said.
School is very important and the lack of sleep is making it hard to juggle all of his responsibilities. Orson believes that because of all of his activities, his time management skills have improved greatly.
Starting out in recreational soccer, Orson didn’t think much of his future in soccer. However, after seeing his teammates and friends leave his recreational league and go to bigger clubs, it made him think about it. This is what led him to playing on the U16 Atlanta United team.
Orson thinks that the position he plays, center back (CB), is one of the main factors in his success in soccer. “It is rare in soccer to be a left-footed center back, which is to my advantage and I am valued because of that,” Orson said. Atlanta United scouts and watches players every time they are on the field.
Andrew Carleton, a 16-year-old, was called up to the MLS team in Atlanta on a Homegrown Contract. A Homegrown Contract gives an MLS team the ability to call-up players to the professional team from their developmental teams. This is a possibility for any player at Atlanta United, including Orson. “Andrew Carleton is something else,” Orson said. Orson said he thinks Carleton has had the advantage of being home-schooled, which has given him more time to train.
Atlanta United doesn’t allow their players to play any other sports, including high school soccer, so don’t expect to see Orson on the playing field this Spring. “It’s frustrating that I can’t play for Coach Bodnar because I have grown close with him after playing for his middle school team for 3 years and the team is a lot more successful than they used to be,” Orson said.
Orson plans to graduate and continue playing soccer in college.