Passion & love for the game is what drives UNC standout James Pyle!
We most recently got the chance to talk with PDL national champion and recent MLS Combine invitee James Pyle! The UNC Men's Soccer standout enjoyed a successful college career and we were lucky enough to recap his journey as well as talk with him about what is next! Read it all below.
Growing up, did you play a variety of sports or was soccer always your main focus?
Growing up, I was fortunate to have a twin brother who enjoyed playing sports as much as I did. Our parents always put us in team sports because it was a good way to burn off never-ending energy and build social skills. We were both quiet, introverted kids. We played baseball until about 10 when we realized we didn’t like wearing long pants while playing a sport. We also did not like standing around waiting for something to happen (kind of ironic now). We played basketball until we were 11 years old during the winter months. It was fun, but both our hearts were into running around outside and kicking a soccer ball
At what point did you start taking soccer seriously? Was your goal always to play in college?
I don’t remember a certain time in life when I decided to take soccer seriously. I was always one of the better players on the team so that helped motivate me to commit more fully to the sport. I think soccer was always something me and my brother did for fun. I remember in 8th grade we were on the top team in North Carolina for our age group, playing to qualify for Region lll. We had a great season and were winning all games and would certainly qualify for Region III. But the coach wasn’t the best and my brother and I weren’t having fun. We were excelling as players, but the game was about us having fun together not listening to an out of control, irate coach. We dropped down to the second team in our club for the spring season. We ended up having a blast and enjoying soccer again. We were fortunate to still have coaches in our club that believed in us and recognized our talent and passion for the game and put us on the USSDA team the following year.
Talk about your recruiting process a bit...was division one always your goal? How did you decide on UNC Chapel Hill?
I think the goal; and the goal still is, to always play soccer until you feel the passion and love for the game is gone. Passion and love for the game is what drives and motivates me. I loved playing the game in high school. I was a quiet kid. I didn’t express myself much except with the team and on the field; I found it was a release. It was a passion and when it’s your passion you work hard at it to keep it alive. This was especially important and the case in high school. I knew our parents wouldn’t let us play college soccer unless the school was ranked high academically. Soccer was never an intent or identity that our parents wanted for us.
Division One was the goal mainly because it would have the schools that could support the academic foundations that my parents wanted me and my brother to lay for ourselves. I was also very lucky to play in a state where a lot of top soccer college programs are located and would provide the most exposure if I wanted to purse a soccer career beyond college. I decided on UNC Chapel Hill for a couple reasons. My first real exposure to UNC soccer was in the fifth grade when my English teacher had a son on the UNC 2001 national championship team. My teacher had a poster of her son and the UNC soccer team on the wall right in front of my desk. I looked at that poster whenever I sat down for class every day. The Carolina blue looked nice and I liked playing soccer. I decided to attend UNC due to the repeated exposure burned into my brain from my soccer teammates and coaches to go to Chapel