We are very excited to share this recent interview with you all! Former Charlotte Independence youth standout and current Miami University freshman goalkeeper Ella Futch joined us to discuss a wide variety of topics. She touched on the pressures of goalkeeping, the college recruiting process, and much more. Read all about it below!
1. What got you interested in the goalkeeping position? Any specific memory?
I was thrown into goal in a youth game when we did not have a designated keeper. I think I made one save and I just remember loving that feeling of making a save so I continued to ask to be put in goal after that.
2. You were a four-year varsity starter, two of those years as captain. Describe the feeling of being a varsity player as a freshman and how did those feelings change as a senior?
Being a varsity starter as a freshman was such a blessing because I think it is the reason I have grown so much in the past four years. Being on the field surrounded by upperclassmen players that had so much experience and talent really motivated me and pushed me to perform my best all the time. The biggest change I think I experienced from freshmen year to senior year was my level of confidence.
3. As a goalkeeper, we are naturally expected to be leaders. Did you feel any added pressure to perform since you were captain of the team as well?
I definitely felt pressure to perform well as a captain. To me the pressure was not a bad thing because I think it just motivated me to stay focused and not slack off in practice or games. Goalkeepers are usually expected to be the loudest and craziest players but for me I felt like my way of leading was by being a silent leader at practices. I wanted to motivate and push my team by working my hardest all the time even on days when I didn’t feel my best. This also meant that even in technical footwork drills where I wasn’t goalkeeping I had to work my hardest because it wouldn’t be fair for me to not try just because “I’m a goalkeeper”. I felt like by always working my hardest, the pressure was not as bad because my team knew I was always giving them my all and mistakes are just part of the process that we all experience.
4. Let's talk about the college recruiting process. What was it like for you? How did you get in contact with and communicate with coaches?
The college recruiting process was a lot of things. It was exciting, stressful, hard work, but most of all rewarding. I remember being contacted by a school my freshmen year after a showcase and I felt such a sense of relief that all my hard work was being recognized. I instantly thought that school was the one for me, but that was just the beginning of a long process where I learned so much about all the different schools that were out there. For the next 3 years I attended showcases and ID camps and the thing that I would say was the most important aspect of it all
was communication. Sending emails to coaches before and after the events, expressing my interest and updating them with my game schedule was important for keeping my name in their mind. Phone calls with coaches were another part of the process that was scary at first but they are so important for talking with the coaches to see if you really have a connection with them and their program which is sometimes hard to get an idea of over email.
5. How did you make the decision to go to Miami University?
The summer before my senior year I was still trying to find a school that felt like the perfect fit for me. I had known a few athletes (soccer and football players) that had gone to Miami so I did some research on the school and I realized it was everything I was looking for. The most important thing to me was the education of the school and I found out that Miami has a very good reputation for their academics. In addition, the beautiful college town was exactly what I was looking for. I reached out to Coach Courtney, my head coach, and in the email I included a film reel that I had
put together for me over the summer by a company called SoccerReelz in Charlotte. I got a response from Courtney saying they were actually still looking to recruit a goalkeeper. The conversations I had with the rest of the staff here at Miami only made me want to join the program even more because of the culture that the team has created. As much as I wanted to come here to play, it was also important to me that the coaching staff believed in me and my abilities. Coach Courtney and Coach Kim both expressed that they did. After many conversations with the staff, a zoom call to get to know the team, and a quick visit to campus to see if it was the right fit; I decided that Miami was where I wanted to spend the next four years playing soccer and receiving an education.
6. You recently started your freshman year in Ohio. What has the transition from high school to college been like?
The beginning of this season has definitely challenged me more than I have been challenged before physically and mentally, but more on the mental side of things. I have always been a homebody so being far away from my family has been a challenge for me. After pre-season, once classes started, I felt a lot better because I had a routine like I was used to having at home. I have been loving my classes and the schedule that is a lot less structured than high school. I go to practice in the morning, then during the afternoon I have about 2-3 classes but I also have a lot more time to study and get stuff done during the day compared to high school where I was always up late doing work and studying.
7. You're competing with a number of older goalkeepers right now, how has that affected your game and the way you approach training?
I think it is only affecting me positively because of the competitive, encouraging environment that we have at our goalkeeper trainings. The girls I train with have a lot of experience which means there are so many learning opportunities every day at practice and even at games as I watch them play. The culture our team has created is one of the main reasons why I don’t get scared or nervous to go to training. I just get excited and I feel so grateful I get to continue playing the sport I love in an environment like that. There are still days where I find myself comparing myself
and I start to get down on myself, but this is when it is so important for me to dig deep and find the confidence that I worked so hard to gain in high school. It is a personal mental battle, but having the upperclassmen goalkeepers by my side, lifting me up, has definitely made things a lot easier.
8. What advice do you have for young goalkeepers looking to reach the collegiate level?
My advice would be to find a club or training group with coaches that truly believe in your abilities and push you to be the best soccer player you can be. There was a time as a youth player where I did not love the game anymore and I was not experiencing any growth as a player so I felt hopeless. When I ended up finding another program that had coaches that believed in me, that helped me improve in the areas I was lacking. That created a positive culture and I found my love for the game again. I enjoyed going to practice, I enjoyed working hard, and I found confidence. This one change I made was one of the best choices I have made because, without it, I don’t think I would have experienced the growth I did that allowed me to reach the collegiate level. Even if it is not possible for you to find a different club, finding a separate training group, like Prime Focus, that offers these qualities is just as great. Personally, working with Brandon was the best way for me to keep up with training at a high level during the summer and I always had a good time.
9. What is your ultimate goal as a goalkeeper?
My ultimate goal as a goalkeeper is to have fun and enjoy the time I have playing soccer but also to perform well so that I can do my job in helping my team get to the MAC tournament in the fall. Every day I wake up I remind myself of how fortunate I am to be at Miami playing the sport I love, so I can’t take any practice or game day for granted. I want to be the best goalkeeper I can be so I am always looking to improve my areas of weakness. I am hoping that by the time my four years here are up, I will be able to look back and see my progress and be satisfied with the impact I made on the team.
10. Last but not least, who is your favorite goalkeeper in the world?
*Check out our interview with the World Cup winning veteran goalkeeper HERE!