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Exclusive Interview: Getting to Know Prime Focus Goalkeeping's Newest Goalkeeper Coach, Danny Rodgers!

Danny Rodgers youth goalkeeper coach

How did you get started as a goalkeeper? What drew you to the position?

At the age of around 9 or 10 I was told to try the position to see if I would have fun, and clearly all these years later I did and have been having fun every second I have been involved in goalkeeping.  When I was young I primarily enjoyed playing a defensive role on the team, so the idea of stopping goals also appealed to me. 

What was your youth soccer career like? Did you play for a big club and go to big showcase events?

My youth soccer career was something I will always remember.  It was mostly my mother and I growing up, so we did not have a lot of exposure to the soccer world and everything it had to offer.  Due to this, I did not begin playing cup soccer until my junior year of high school.  I played for Beadling soccer club and quickly transitioned from the B team to the A team and began splitting halves with the other goalkeeper who had been there for many years.  My club went on to top out at 11th in the nation and we made a great run in the regional tournament after winning the state championship my senior year.  I think this is where my drive to prove people wrong began as I had to continually work to earn what I was given.

Danny Rodgers goalkeeper youth coach

Tell us about your college recruiting experience? Did you enjoy the process? What were some of the things you would have done differently?

My college recruiting process was definitely a unique one because I did not have a ton of help from coaches or advisors in any way.  I did not necessarily enjoy the process because I was primarily learning everything on my own and that is why I have made it a goal to help younger goalkeepers with this stressful yet exciting period of their lives however I can.  I would have definitely taken more “risks” in the sense of asking for help and repeatedly emailing coaches.  I realize now after the fact that the worst someone can say is no and if that happens you just keep moving forward.  I also came to the realization that some coaches simply don’t see your emails due to the large amount they may be receiving, so sending multiple is definitely something I would have done more of. 

You started off your career at California University of Pennsylvania. Why did you decide to attend this school? 

After it was all said and done I was down to deciding between Bucknell and Cal U and I went with Cal U due to how close it was to home and the price-point was much more affordable than Bucknell's.  Their program for computer science/cybersecurity also fit my academic needs to make for a well-rounded decision for soccer and my possible future career. 

You redshirted your freshman year, how did you end up making that decision? Do you think it was positive or negative for your college career?’

I was initially thinking of redshirting my freshman year, but after I had a lower-back and knee injury at around the same time it only made sense.  I did not want to waste a possible year to play in the future and I decided that recovering physically and mentally was my main priority. 

Danny Rodgers goalkeeper youth goalkeeper coach

You went on to star at Pittsburgh-Greenburg. What made you decide to transfer? 

My decision to transfer was primarily due to my redshirting and the Covid Pandemic alike.  I had become accustom to my situation friendship-wise at Cal U; however, there were some other factors that made me feel that Cal U was not the school I was going to flourish at in terms of playing soccer.  The Covid Pandemic was just the last straw that pushed me to make a leap towards a new direction.  After I decided to leave however, I did not realize how many schools were not open to taking on players due to how uncertain next season was with Covid so I took a risk and went to Pitt’s main campus in Oakland.  My hope was that I could transfer out and play somewhere else while avoiding spending time at Cal U so that I could mentally recover from the injuries and some struggles I was going through.  The coach at Greensburg was someone I had been recruited by at another school and he had just taken up the head coaching position.  He reached out to me and asked me to give them a chance with a visit to the school.  I fell in love with the small-school atmosphere and the abundance of nature nearby that I could enjoy.  The faculty on the team and in the cybersecurity department were also so open and helpful through the entire process and that was what ultimately sold me on transferring there. 

How did you adjust to becoming the starting goalkeeper at a new school? What was the competition level like?

I just went into Greensburg with the mindset of confidence.  I knew what I was capable of on the field and I decided to not be nervous and to just showcase my ability to the staff and the team.  I ended up gaining the starting position right off the bat and I never looked back.  The competition was good and the second string definitely helped me improve by being a good teammate and friend alike which I was lucky to have.

In all, you spent time at three separate college soccer programs. What are some of the most important things you learned during your time in these different environments?

I think the most important thing I learned is that not every situation is right for you and that taking risks and jumps towards new opportunities is something that should excite someone rather than terrify them.  Cal U introduced me to what collegiate soccer had to offer, Greensburg helped me develop as a player and a leader on and off the field alike, and Lynn showed me how good players were from other countries which was eye opening.  The level at Lynn showed me not only that I was at that level, but more importantly it re-invigorated my drive to play at the highest level I can possibly reach.

Danny Rodgers goalkeeper youth goalkeeper coach

You are now currently training with the Charlotte Independence. What has that  transition to the professional level been like?

At first the transition was a bit trying.  Playing at multiple different levels  throughout my career had made me more skittish to trusting teammates on the ball due to a fear that it would turn into a breakaway-type situation for myself.  I soon realized that these players were not only playing for fun, but for their livelihood as well.  Their ability on and off the ball is top-quality and their IQ for the game is something that I have tried to absorb through multiple different methods in order to improve.  The biggest positive transition for me so far from my time at Charlotte is how often I am watching film with the goalkeeper coach from practices and games.  I have begun not only watching myself to observe good and bad things I am doing, but I have also begun studying strikers and the way they are on and off the ball.  Doing so has helped me learn and adapt to how quickly they can get the ball off their feet for a shot, cross, or pass and it has been an amazing way to adapt and improve my skill. It was another “risk” or “jump” as I discussed earlier with my moving to Charlotte from Florida in order to take this opportunity.  I have not regretted one second of it though because I know this will make me a much better and smarter player and guide me toward the path of being a professional for as long as I can as I have dreamed about since I was young. 

What goalkeeper inspired you most throughout your career?

I think that I was inspired most by Marc-André ter Stegen growing up, and still to this day.  His ability to help his team with his feet and his consistency over so many years has really inspired me to reach the heights he has as a player.  He was always my favorite shot stopper, but once I started watching him play more in-depth I also realized how much he communicates with his team, how dominant he is on crosses, and how much he helps his team succeed in La Liga and any other tournaments they may be involved in.


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