Sounders Under-23 goalkeeper Doug Herrick is proud to represent Washington Youth Soccer, and the clubs and coaches who helped him along the way.
By Doug Herrick
Asked to contribute an article to Washington Youth Soccer about my youth soccer experience, two themes immediately came to mind —"Control the controllables," and, "Create your own luck." These were mantras from my earliest coaches, Brian Schmetzer and John Hamel, of Emerald City Football Club.
Lacking a proper soccer goal, I recall preparing for my first select tryout by standing in front of a chain-link fence while my dad tried to put the ball past me (he has a very short pedigree in soccer). It wasn't fancy, but it proved good enough to make the Emerald City white ("B") team. Playing tough competition with our sometimes-porous defense, improvement opportunities were numerous, and slowly, I became more reliable in the basic skills of shot-stopping.
At U17, I was "recruited" by an ambitious start-up club out of Everett and worked with my first goalkeeper coach, Sergio Soriano. Sergio helped to refine my skills and broaden my perspective of how a goalkeeper sees the game. As a result of successful tournament play, Crossfire coach Bernie James invited me to join his team for my U18 year. I felt incredibly lucky, but also worked very hard on the "controllables." Because of my birth date, I was eligible to play U19 soccer and was fortunate to play for soccer coach and commentator Peter Fewing, who helped me with the college process (and notably stated, "I look forward to seeing you in the MLS someday"— still working on that, Pete!).
At this point, I received and accepted a scholarship offer from St. Mary's College of California, a Division-I team in the West Coast Conference. In the meantime, I was playing on Crossfire's USSDA Academy team and traveling constantly to new venues while still keeping up with my schoolwork. Never would I have dreamed to be so lucky or, perhaps, to have manufactured so much luck.
College soccer can be an adjustment. Balancing my academic load as a biology major with the commitments of a Division-I training schedule taught me the important skill of time management. However, I only played one game that year and had to re-learn about controlling the controllables — not worrying about how others were doing, but simply focusing on my own play. My sophomore year, I re-focused and won the starting spot, setting a school record with 10 wins in goal.
In my final year at Saint Mary's, we won the WCC (a first for my college) and advanced through three road wins to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals before losing to the eventual tournament champion, North Carolina. Many wrote of Cinderella and called us lucky. Well, we were lucky, but we took advantage of our strengths, and won games wherever they were.
The following January, 2012, the MLS draft popped up on my radar. I was in Safeway when my phone started buzzing.
"Portland!!!" my St. Mary's coach told me, ecstatically.
Two weeks later, I was at JELD-WEN Field, trying to earn a spot on the Timbers' squad. It didn't happen.
I was shell-shocked, and nearly called an end to my career. After calming down (which took awhile), I realized I couldn't control what Portland was looking for in a goalkeeper — that was an "uncontrollable." I could only control the effort I had put in during training camp, which I was confident had been my best.
I finished my spring semester at St. Mary's and completed my biology degree, which will someday be put to good use.
Soccer, though, had at least one more "wave" for me to catch. This summer, I came back to Seattle to play with the Sounders PDL team, coached by Darren Sawatzky, and to train with the Sounders first team, assistant-coached by my first soccer coach, Brian Schmetzer. Coaches Ben Dragavon and Tommy Dutra improved my play.
With these improvements, greater visibility and the help of others, I recently received a call to play for a high-level team in Guam. This experience in the international soccer arena reminds me that soccer has taught me many important life lessons, generated many wonderful friendships and provided amazing cultural opportunities — all while allowing me to do the thing I love.
I take pride in representing Washington state and all my past clubs and coaches, while continuing to pursue my dream.