Head in the game: Soccer captain Charlie Young leads through growth and compassion

Varsity+soccer+captain+Charlie+Young+goes+for+a+header+during+practice+after+school+on+Sept.+22.+Charlie+has+played+for+U-High+since+ninth+grade%2C+gaining+confidence+in+his+skills+and+in+leadership.

Matt Petres

Varsity soccer captain Charlie Young goes for a header during practice after school on Sept. 22. Charlie has played for U-High since ninth grade, gaining confidence in his skills and in leadership.

Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu, Reporter

Sprinting down the middle of the field watching a teammate, feet racing and arms pumping, Charlie Young tears toward the opposite goal. His coaches watch in satisfaction, and teammates cheer with excitement as he receives the pass, winds back, shoots and scores.

Scoring is familiar to Charlie. As a striker on the boys soccer team and the lead scorer this season, he has become an essential player on the team and found success as a leader. 

He has always enjoyed soccer, but in high school has understood that hard work and dedication is what produces results. He started soccer at age 5 or 6, where he would play with friends in his free time. It would be much later before he would realize his love for the sport.

“I just felt a little lost to be honest,” he said. “Soccer really never felt that special to me until middle school and later.”

Through more continuous play and experience in the sport, Charlie has found sanctuary in playing with peers and teammates in a space that provides an outlet away from the stress of school.

“You just go play soccer and you forget about it,” he said. “Even if you’re losing games, you’re still friends and you go to school together. That’s really the best part about it.”

His teammates also can see his love for the sport and what he adds to the team.

“He is always there for you and always ready to lift you up,” teammate Milo Jarard said. “He’s pretty dedicated to the sport. He trains a lot. He pushes himself to be the best person he can be on and off the field.”

This dedication did not come easy. It took some time for Charlie to warm up to being a performing player and understand his role for the greater team.

“He’s a player that [Coach Josh Potter] and I as coaches throughout four years have been hard on him. And the reason we’ve been hard on him is because he has a high ceiling,” varsity assistant coach David Vadeboncoeur said.

Coach Potter said that around Charlie’s ninth grade season he relied mostly on his natural abilities and did not realize that hard work would make him successful later on. Now, he understands that putting in effort on the field pays off. 

Charlie has gained confidence in his playing throughout his time on the team. This year, he is especially determined and feels he is at the peak of his focus.

“I feel like I’m just there to play and I have nothing else to worry about,” he said. “It’s definitely made me more confident in myself. As my confidence on the field grew, mine did off the field as well.”

I feel like I’m just there to play and I have nothing else to worry about. It’s definitely made me more confident in myself. As my confidence on the field grew, mine did off the field as well.”

— Charlie Young

This season as a captain, he has come to possess an exemplary leadership style.

“He is quieter on the field, he doesn’t say a lot, but his leadership is very much shown in the way he plays,” Coach Potter said.

Charlie’s leadership also is represented by his approachable and compassionate demeanor on the field.

“He’s much more gentle with his teammates, and concerned about their overall well being and how they are,” Coach Vadeboncoeur said.

His strength in being a thoughtful leader comes from his genuine appreciation for being with people.

“I think I siphon energy from other people around me,” he said. “I think having a lot of people around me like my teammates, my friends, it improves my quality of life so much more than I ever thought it would.”

Charlie’s leadership style is less than commanding. Rather, it is encouraging. He finds that in addition to achieving on the field, he can serve as a reminder to the whole team of their collective purpose being with one another.

“I’d like to say that I’m somewhat of a light-hearted leader,” he said. “I feel like I try to bring people back in if I notice that they’re losing focus, but also make everyone know that at the end of the day we’re here to have fun.”

Charlie’s soccer journey demonstrates what it means to have confidence in oneself, and determination in contributing to a larger whole, understanding that the road to success is long and often non linear. 

In the second half of a game, a teammate switches the play from the halfway line, preparing to pass. Charlie breaks away, focused, and his determination powers him across the field as he races toward the goal.

In the print edition of this story, Milo Jarard was incorrectly listed as a captain.