We are excited to bring you another inspiring interview with an extremely talented goalkeeper playing division one soccer at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Jordan Charles is a Junior goalkeeper at one of the top collegiate soccer programs in the country. He shares some great insight into how he got to where he is and some important advice for young goalkeepers. Read it all below!
1. When did you decide that goalkeeper was the position you wanted to play?
I first went in goal when I was 7. I was pretty good at that age, so I just stuck with it and haven't looked back since.
2. You spent time in multiple development academies at the youth level, what were those experiences like as a youth goalkeeper?
It was good to get hands-on coaching very young when I didn't know much more than keeping the ball out of the net. Before I got into the academy, I was a very raw goalkeeper who was unorthodox and athletic; so it was good to really focus on all the technical aspects of goalkeeping.
3. How do you think the USL academy helped you prepare for the collegiate level?
USL academy helped me out a lot, especially during my senior year. It was a big year for me as I was still looking for a college to call home. The training environment every day was really intense and the level was high. We were also playing good teams week after week.
4. What were some of the biggest adjustments as a goalkeeper when transitioning to college?
Speed of play for sure. I remember even just playing small-sided with some guys in town the summer before my first semester and everything moved so fast for me. Players are faster, and decision-making is quicker so naturally, you have to adapt and it took a lot of mistakes to understand that.
5. How do you balance being a college athlete with the rigors of school?
Balancing soccer and school were challenging at first, just because of the workload. It's just important to know you have a lot of time during the week that isn't related to soccer so just use your downtime wisely. Also, not every assignment needs to be finished in one night so I work on assignments throughout the week when possible.
6. What are some of the most important lessons you've learned during your time at UNC Charlotte?
Some of the biggest lessons I've learned at UNCC are firstly; you have to make time for certain things. There are days when you have a packed schedule and you may miss office hours that you needed to talk to your professor or even a small quiz you may have forgotten because you got caught up. Secondly, is that you're on your own you now. College is the first time you're away from your parents so you want to represent them well but in that same breathe you should go and try to find who you are (if you haven't already). Also, go explore and try new things and experience college because you're not in college forever; it's really a one time thing. I remember just yesterday when I got here; time flies fast.
7. What are some of the major differences when competing in training at the college level versus the youth level?
Obviously the level is higher in college but you're going against adults now. I can speak for UNCC, we'll tackle hard even in training. The intensity is so high here. Also, mistakes are punished more at the collegiate level in training. I feel like, in youth soccer, you could get away with making mistakes in training. In college, mistakes lead to goals.
8. What advice would you have for young goalkeepers looking to play college soccer?
Any advice I would give is to be confident in yourself while you're playing. Whether you're shot stopping or building out of the back, just be confident in yourself. Being vocal makes life a little easier as a goalkeeper. The biggest piece of advice is to trust yourself and be confident; goals are going to happen and so will mistakes, but you have to have a short-term memory.
9. What are some of your goals as a goalkeeper during the last two years of eligibility?
My main goal is to get to the NCAA tournament and get that ring. Also, get some hardware from the conference as well.
10. Who was your goalkeeping idol growing up?
A couple of goalkeepers I looked up to and idolized growing up were
Buffon and Tim Howard.