Entering his second season at Hill College, Gainesville’s Ivan Franco isn’t taking his summer training lightly.
Franco knows that if he shows up to the fall season out of shape or unseasoned, he could lose his starting spot.
Not only that, but Franco is fighting to put good plays on film so he might garner an offer from other colleges.
Franco’s drive to fend off players nipping at his heels and his desire to get his team far in the playoffs is fueling his workouts.
“When you get to school, especially at a JUCO [junior college], everybody’s fighting for your spot,” Franco said. “You’re all friends, but at the end of the day, you’re only there two years. So if you don’t play the first year, you have to take care of your business because if not, you’ll be on the bench. That’s pretty much what my brother told me because he played in college as well. He told me to go there and take care of your business first, because if not, you will end up wanting to leave.”
As a starter in his first year for 14 out of the team’s 15 games, Franco said his motivation to help the team win is at the top of his list.
“That was big to me, because that showed that I had the coaches trust in me,” Franco said about starting as a freshman. “My freshman year, it was decent, but now I need the same thing, except 10 times better just to help me and just help the team. So that’s pretty much all I care about. Last year, we went like 10-4, but I know we could have done way better. And now with everybody on the same mindset, we can make something happen this year.”
Franco said perfecting his craft is nearly all he focuses on in his down time.
“Every day, whenever I’m on the field or I’m in my room, I’m always breaking down film or watching film to see what I can do better,” Franco said. “ Whenever I’m out there, I also notice the stuff that the rest of the team can do better. I’m just trying to help everybody out and help myself out. We’re just trying to help everybody learn and I always tell them, if I’m messing up, just don’t be afraid to yell at me. I won’t take it the wrong way and we know it’s just all for the best.”
If the team does well, Franco said the rest of the players could see their own avenues to success.
“I have pretty decent film from the last year, but I know if I’m good enough, I could probably get some scholarships based on the film from last year,” Franco said. “But for all of us this year, if we really have a great year and we go to nationals, that could be like an outlet for every single person on the team to go to a bigger school.”
While soccer is the sport driving him, his main hope for getting looks from other schools is to have his school paid for. After that, Franco has his sights set high.
“I don’t have a set school, but I want to go to where I’ll actually get minutes fit in and pretty much just wherever I’ll get my school paid for,” Franco said. “That’s my main issue is I don’t want my parents paying a dollar. So right now, it’s just wherever the best fit is financially and then just athletically with school. I do have designs on professional soccer. If I can stay healthy, and everything goes well, then I’m going to plan on trying to make the jump, or just putting myself out there.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip