Monday, December 10, 2007

INTERVIEW WITH JON LEATHERS Not having ever been a part of a national team camp before, were you surprised that you got the call?

Jon Leathers: “Yeah, actually. We were in the middle of college season when my coach told me that I was on the provisional roster. It came as a shock to me. I remember the Wednesday right before Thanksgiving I got named to the final roster, and I thought ‘wow, what an exciting opportunity.’ I was definitely surprised. By the same token, it was quite gratifying because I’ve put in a lot of hard work my whole life, especially the four years at Furham. I guess that work is paying off.” Did you even know you were on the radar screen?

Jon: “A little bit. I may have heard one or two things, but I was really focused on my college season.” You were entering Furham as Clint Dempsey was leaving to join the New England Revolution. Was it your goal to follow in his footsteps and try to make it as a professional soccer player?

Jon: “Definitely. As a kid that was always a goal, and each step along the way I’ve gotten closer to it. When Clint headed to MLS, I saw making it there as a real possibility. At the same time, I knew I was going to have to work really hard to get to where he was.” Of the 20 players here in China, 16 of them play in MLS, so you’ve had the chance to watch them playing in the league. What’s it like now playing with group?

Jon: “I’ve played with a few of them before. I played a lot against Michael Harrington growing up, for example. It’s crazy to think that I’m playing with all these guys that do play professional. I was a little hesitant coming in; it was a little overwhelming. But once I started playing and got a feel for them and how they play, I adapted to it. Playing with this group is definitely going to make me a better player, and will help me as I get ready for the combine and the MLS draft. This past week has given me a lot of confidence to believe that I can compete at the professional level.” You’re the only college player here. Any stick from the guys?

Jon: “Initially I thought that the guys would think that I’m just a college player and don’t have as much experience as them. I think that worked to my advantage coming into this camp, because I knew I had a lot to prove and at the same time there weren’t a lot of expectations. It’s helped me maintain focus.” This is your first time in any national team camp, and you’ve come in at a pretty high level. What has the experience been like?

Jon: “I think everything is done very professionally, and the treatment has been spectacular. We got off the airplane and were greeted by people giving flowers, and there were a lot of cameras around. I wasn’t used to that. You definitely get a lot more attention being a part of a national team.” And how have things been different on the field?

Jon: “Everything is very disciplined. When you go to training, all the players are really focused because it’s their job. In college, you go to a training session and guys are thinking about different things like exams and other stuff outside of soccer. Here, it’s very professional. Everyone is fighting for positions and you have to bring your best every day. The coaches are constantly talking about ideas on the field, and they pay attention to all the little details that you don’t always think about. It’s a whole other level.” It’s been a good week of training with two international games on the horizon here in China. What do you hope to get out of this camp?

Jon: “Ultimately I want to make a good impression on the coaching staff so I get invited back. That’s the most important goal. I would love to be a part of this team when we try to qualify for the Olympics, so I’m going to do everything I can to get back here.”

1 comment:

matthew said...

I'm a graduate of Furman, not Furham... class of 1995, and am extremely proud of how Clint Dempsey and Ricardo Clark have done in MLS, the Premier League, and on the National Team, and look forward to following Jon Leathers' career. Best of luck to Jon. I'm sure this is a great consolation prize after a hard loss to Wake Forest in the playoffs.