Gaining invaluable experience
My name is Andrew Pannenberg and I am a goalkeeper at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I grew up in Charlotte and first started playing goalkeeper at the age of 8 for a club named South Charlotte Soccer Association (SCSA) and what later turned into Charlotte Soccer Academy (CSA). When I was a freshman in high school, I made CSA’s U16 Development Academy Team. I played for the U16 team for my freshman and sophomore years and then the U18 team my junior and senior years. During this time, I had my share of success. During my sophomore year, I was invited to play in the Developmental Academy’s yearly Select game. This game brought all the best players in the country together to play and be watched by national team scouts and college coaches. I played so well that a month later I was invited to train with the U17 US National Team in Bradenton, Florida.
Later that year I signed an amateur contract with the local USL soccer team, the Charlotte Independence. This allowed me to train with professional soccer players while still retaining my NCAA eligibility. This was one of the greatest factors during my development as a young goalkeeper and really helped to push me to the next level. I trained with them for that entire summer as well as the following summer too. To be able to train with professionals everyday was extremely beneficial for me. Although I may not have been on their level at the time, to be able to watch pro players and receive feedback from them day in and day out helped me to grow immensely as a goalkeeper. This amount of experience I gained helped me perform back with my academy team and led me to receive a scholarship to play at Wake Forest University.
This past winter, I graduated a semester early from high school in order to enroll at Wake Forest for the spring semester. At first, it seemed kind of daunting to be the only person in my recruiting class to go in a semester early, but as I got into training, I quickly adapted to the new atmosphere. After playing at the national team level and with the professionals from the Independence, the transition from academy soccer to college soccer wasn’t as difficult as one might think. Training sessions at the college level are run at almost the same level as the professional level. I have been very fortunate to have the experiences I had to help make this transition that much easier. I was able to get a solid amount of playing time in our seven spring games and I am now looking forward to my first fall of college soccer. When I was little, I used to go to Wake Forest soccer games all the time. To finally be able to put on the jersey and play on the field has really been a dream come true and has been a true blessing.