Junior Jansen Miller scores a spot practicing with the St. Louis Football Club Academy


Caroline Judd

Holding up a soccer ball, junior Jansen Miller dons his soccer jersey in front of a goal. Jansen has played soccer with the St. Louis Football Club Academy for three years. “The advantage is that [STLFC] are good role models, who have helped me not just in soccer, but in life as a professional because that’s their job. That’s their life and that’s what I want to do,” Miller said. “Seeing them and what they do every single day, that’s my goal.”

As the first-hour bell signals class is over, junior Jansen Miller packs his bags to leave school. From there, he heads to the St. Louis Football Club Academy (STLFC) to train with the professional soccer team.

Jansen began playing with the STLFC in eighth grade with players his own age, but was recruited in September to play with men ages 23 to 40 on the professional team. The STLFC professional team is the United Soccer League (USL) second division professional team.

“I train with them, eat lunch with them and workout with them every Wednesday and Thursday,” Jansen said. “Training is more with the soccer ball. It’s passing, dribbling and shooting. Working out is more lifting weights and strengthening everything.”

Jansen misses his second through fifth hour of school twice a week, but returns after school to make up his missed assignments.

Caroline Judd
“My teachers stay after school with me to help me catch up on the work that I missed, and they let me come in before school too if I need it,” Jansen said. “When I’m not playing soccer, I’m working on school. I don’t really have a lot of time for a social life. It’s pretty stressful having to manage my time and stay ahead.”

As of now, Jansen is just practicing with the professionals, but he hopes to start playing real games with them eventually.

“In February, I’m supposed to go to California with them for their preseason when they play, which is three or four games. It’s a ten day preseason,” Jansen said. “Hopefully next year, when I’m a senior, I’ll get to play in actual USL games.”

Spending time with the men on the professional team has taught Jansen life lessons he will never forget.

“I’ve learned about time management, but more importantly being humble. If you get too high on your horse, you’ll get moved down a team,” Jansen said. “Also, you have to be consistent on how you play. Time on the team can get cut short if you’re not performing.”

Jansen has been provided with opportunities he never thought he would have because of soccer.

“I’ve met a lot of people throughout my experience with soccer, which is always a good thing,” Jansen said. “And of course, training with professionals has given me the chance to not only play kids my age but men that are a lot older which is cool.”

College recruitment began Sept. 1 and Jansen has had no shortage of schools reaching out to him.

“I’ve been looking at Pittsburgh, Akron and SLU. I’m touring the University of Portland in October,” Jansen said. “Soccer makes college a lot easier to get into. There’s more leeway as an athlete.”

Jansen wants to continue playing soccer until he reaches his ultimate goal: the professional level.

“If I got to the professional level, that would obviously be amazing,” Jansen said. “It would feel like all of my hard work was worth it.”