Article by: Matt Sicat

Earning an athletic scholarship to university — and much less a school that plays Division 1 — is one of the highest honors an athlete can earn. Senior soccer player Johnny McArtor is the first Bearcat athlete in years to be scouted for an National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 (NCAA D1) school in the United States: Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Ever since he moved to Manila, Johnny has been thrust into the spotlight as a top athlete. Bearcat Center Mid and Captain for the ISM Soccer Team, Johnny trained with the team constantly, looking for every opportunity to train and hone his skills. Johnny also joined various clubs outside of school, playing men’s league games throughout the week and even practicing in the mornings before school. With this amount of effort and hard work, it is no surprise that Johnny was selected for such a prestigious soccer program.

Johnny says his love for soccer developed early on at age 6. “My dad was a soccer player and he passed that down to my older sisters and then on to me,” he says. Over the years, Johnny has developed from a backyard athlete to one of the top soccer players at ISM. His coach Steve Ayling claims that the coaches and team members were “blown away” when they first saw him play two years ago, and that they were “unlucky” not to have him in the team a year earlier in his Freshman year.

“[Being scouted] was always something I looked forward to in middle school [in the United States (US)]. But everything changed when I moved,” Johnny says. Instead of following the standard process of playing in showcases and tournaments to garner attention from college coaches, Johnny had to email video footage to the US and attend summer camps. “It was stressful, but exciting and fun,” he says. “It was really cool when coaches told me they were interested and started giving me offers.”

Valparaiso’s soccer program is one of the most prestigious programs in the US and has recently won the Horizon League regular season conference championship in 2011. While there is no doubt that Johnny will be a huge asset to the Valparaiso team, he stresses that the “speed and physicality of soccer in the US” is a lot higher than in Manila. Moreover, the level of competition in the Philippines is nowhere near that of the US. He says, however, that he “won’t have a problem adjusting to the different styles and speeds” in the US. Johnny believes that his training and playing for the Bearcats greatly boosted his leadership and other intangible assets of his game. “Playing for ISM has really helped me mature as a player,” Johnny expresses.

No matter where or what team Johnny plays for — the ISM Bearcats or the Valparaiso Crusaders — his love for the game will always propel him forward. “You get this atmosphere of freedom on the field you can only get in soccer,” he says. “The feeling you get from winning or playing well during a game or training is one of my favorite things.” Next school year, while Johnny will be leaving a huge spot in the soccer team, Valparaiso will be gaining a talented player with teeming passion for soccer. Go Johnny!

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