goalWA.net continues a special series of features today with a visit with midfielder / forward Vincent McCluskey. Vincent is one of the guys who has put on the shirt of the South Sound Football Club. SSFC (“The “Shock”) is a grass-roots community club that has been able to do remarkable things in the greater Tacoma area. The club has played indoors and out, gone to nationals in various competitions and in the summer of 2014 was a founding member of the Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA). John Crouch, the club’s owner, is most proud of the chance his club gives players to take their game to the next level. Here’s our third chat with an SSFC player. Made in South Sound: Vincent McCluskey.
Vincent McCluskey was born in Seattle and attended Kennedy High School in Burien. He ended up playing college soccer at the University of Puget Sound. As a Logger he saw his confidence and passion for soccer grow. Then the versatile forward / midfielder met the guys at South Sound FC.
“I first started playing soccer at the age of four. It was just West Seattle rec league soccer,nothing really fantastic. As I continued to grow up I started to improve quite a bit and by the time I was about ten years old I was playing select with Emerald City out in North Seattle.”
Take it forward a few years and Vincent is in Tacoma, still searching to improve his game. UPS was his college squad, but that only takes up a few months each year, hardly enough to develop a year-round game. So what next?
“I first got connected with South Sound the summer of my sophomore year in college. I was frustrated with my form during my college season at the University of Puget Sound and was looking for opportunities to play during the summer of 2012. It just so happened a teammate of mine (Landon Gauthier) told me he was going to do this South Sound thing and that I should come out and play. Long story short I went out to a tryout and met the coaches Adam Becker and John Crouch, made the team and have been a part of the South Sound family since then.”
Suddenly McCluskey’s playing minutes expanded and he had more input from several soccer instruction points of view. “Playing for the Shock was huge for me in my development as a soccer player. The first summer I played with the shock we didn’t have a league and most of our games were scrimmages against PDL reserve teams. The second summer it got a bit better and we were able to find games more consistently but were still unable to find enough interest in creating a legitimate league. Still, what those two summers gave me I will be grateful for forever. It gave me a place to consistently play 90 minutes and allowed me to gain valuable experience through playing against some really good players. But, essentially it allowed me to have an extra season of development during the summer which paid dividends for me in my senior year at Puget Sound.”
McCluskey worked hard, and his efforts and SSFC experiences paid off at UPS. “In my senior year, after two summers of playing with South Sound, I earned First Team All-Northwest Conference and First Team All-West Region as a defensive center midfielder. Also as a team we were able to win the NWC Championship in 2013 (my senior year.) Finally, to cap the whole thing off I scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the first round of the NCAA D3 National Tournament.”
Vincent has many memories of playing with South Sound FC, but a trip to nationals stands out. “My favorite Shock moment is probably playing in San Antonio for the USASA National Championships in the summer of 2013. It was a ton of fun because we got to play against some top competition but also because of the guys I got to play with. It was a great mixture of UPS (Luke Sandblom), PLU (Derek Johnson, Jeff Piaquadio, Joe Olegienksi, Taylor Jackson, Giancarlo Santoro, and Joe Rayburn) and several other local guys that came together looking to play as much soccer as we could. It was just a great team and I had a ton of fun on that trip.”
Vincent continues his soccer journey. Now he’s hoping to play at the Showare Center in Kent this winter when the Seattle Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) club debuts.
“Currently I am going into training camp with the Seattle Impact, the professional indoor soccer team that is starting up in Kent. My hopes are that if things go well playing for the Impact that it could lead to bigger opportunities in the future. Obviously, the dream has always been to play soccer professionally and honestly I thought it was a very far-fetched idea until this summer when I was able to make the PDL team known as the Puget Sound Gunners. With both PDL and pro-indoor soccer in my resume it seems a lot of doors have opened to me in the soccer world. But I certainly never forget about where it all started and that was with South Sound.”
UPDATE: McCluskey has gone on to join the Tacoma Stars of the MASL and WISL, performing as one of the leaders and scoring at the professional level while also helping Tacoma win the WISL title.
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