For most high school athletes, competitions require a carpool or perhaps just a trek down to Witter. For sophomore Will Richmond, soccer games often require a flight, even to play teams within his own league and division.
As a member of the De Anza Academy U16 team, Will has traveled to England and Ireland for showcase tournaments, and his practices and home games are in Santa Clara.
“Typically I leave [for practice] around 6 and get back at 11, maybe later,” Will said. “It’s about an hour and a half each way.”
Will’s parents switch off driving him, and his trainer, Nikolai Littleton, usually drives him one day a week. Will said that he is willing to commute because he gets to play with a very good coach and with boys who compete on a national level.
“It’s good to play with those guys and hopefully one day make it up there with them,” Will said.
Will usually sees US Scouts at his tournaments, and he plans to start the college recruitment process soon. By the rules of the US Academy League, Will cannot play soccer for Piedmont due to concerns about injuries, Will said.
Will plays left and right forward, and Littleton said that he has recently been starting games.
“The fact that he’s even been getting in, especially at his age and at that level, is really impressive,” Littleton said.
In the Academy league, age groups are divided into two-year increments, so Will plays on a U16 team instead of a U15 one. He is one of three players on his team who would be eligible for a U15 age group, Littleton said.
“He’s incredible one-on-one,” Littleton said. “He has great instincts on the ball, and his movement is really good.”
When he was younger, Will played tennis and baseball as well as soccer.
“I decided to pursue [soccer] just because I was better at it than the other sports I played,” Will said.
After playing for Piedmont Soccer Club, Will joined Bay Oaks and then Ballistic, a US Academy Team.
“I came to De Anza because there’s not a U16 team for Ballistic,” Will said. “My Ballistic coach and the coach of De Anza knew each other, so I started practicing with them.”
Will’s parents always want to support and encourage their kids to pursue their interests at a high level. By pursuing something at a high level, you learn how to set goals and how to deal with the highs and lows, said his father, Dave Richmond.
“We support him, but we believe that the commitment and the effort needs to come from Will, especially as he gets older,” Dave said.
Dave said that Will’s dedication for soccer has helped with schoolwork.
“I usually find that I get my work done faster on the days I have practice,” Will said.
Will’s team practices three to four times a week and Will and Littleton meet at Witter one to three times a week to work on coordination, ball control, and finishing.
“Cause he’s growing really fast, we do a lot of footwork to get his coordination on point,” Littleton said.
Littleton watches film from Will’s games in order to give him specific advice.
“I wish he were born a few years earlier,” said Littleton, who played for Piedmont. “I might have won a few NCS rings with him.”