Videira makes an immediate impact
Massachusetts native Mike Videira has a lot to be happy about these days. The Sox erased 86 years of agony (Curt friggin' Schilling!) and the Pats are referred to as - gulp - a dynasty after adding another Lombardi Trophy. And the Celtics... well, "Larry Bird still isn't walking through that door," but two out of three isn't bad.
Make that three out of four, because the soccer career for the 19-year old Duke freshman from Milford, Mass. (just 40 minutes outside of Boston), is already on the right path.
Videira was all-everything in high school, and was all-everything in just his first season with the Blue Devils. He seems to have taken home every award handed out this year, including biggies such as Soccer America and ACC Freshman of the Year. He was even been nominated for Best New Artist at Grammy's. More important than the individual honors, he also led Duke back the College Cup for the first time since 1995.
Success isn't random luck like being born a Hilton, so the fact that it follows Videira around isn't just a coincidence. "It comes from all of the hard work I've put in," he says of his accomplishments. "I'm thankful for all of it, and I thank my teammates around me for their efforts. I just try to take it all in while it is happening."
While Videira is able to recognize all of the good things that are happening, he doesn't get caught up in them. He just goes to practice and tries to get better. "It's just about really working hard in practice," Videira says. "Whenever there's something I can't do well, I always get on myself to get it done and try to make it better. I am demanding on myself and if there's something I can improve in my game then I'm going to do it."
The fact that Videira had an immediate impact at Duke may have been a bit of a surprise, but it wasn't totally unexpected. He had plenty of experience on various national teams, beginning with the U-14 team. Playing with and against some of the best competition in the world made him a better all-around player and prepared him for collegiate competition.
"It added some composure to my game," he says of his national team experience. "I feel like I have more composure around other players and that I have more time in smaller spaces. You learn to move the ball really quickly because you don't want to keep it." While he brings composure to the field, the Blue Devils brought excitement to the field.
There's no Rennieville where fans sit in their tents the night before games (yet), but Duke used a young, energetic and high-powered offense fueled by Videira to turn the national spotlight on in Durham. He chose the Blue Devils over Virginia, despite a certain comfort level with the coaching staff and the significant number of national players on the Cavalier roster. Still, though, Duke came away with a slight edge in the "overall fit" category for Videira that led him to Durham.
"It was a tough call and it was a stressful time," he says of the recruiting process. "I really liked the school, the people, the players and the coaching staff. Coach [Mike] Jacobs is awesome and Coach [John] Rennie knows a lot about the game. It just really fit."
With a young team, the Blue Devils started strong but had a midseason lull, but regrouped just in time for the NCAA Tournament to make a run to the College Cup that featured a 3-0 win in Charlottesville over a Cavalier team that had taken Duke down twice earlier in the season.
At the College Cup, though, the Blue Devils' game against UC Santa Barbara was over before it began. The Gauchos, buoyed by a raucous home crowd, jumped up on Duke early and rolled to a 5-0 win. Despite the lopsided outcome, Videira did enjoy the feeling of playing on college soccer's biggest stage.
"The College Cup was amazing, obviously the atmosphere was unreal," he says. "Playing Santa Barbara with all of those fans there made it feel like it was such an event." While their College Cup experience will help them in varying situations throughout their careers, Videira and his teammates use the pain of that loss to help them get better immediately.
"You get over it but you don't forget it. We're obviously going to keep working hard so that doesn't ever happen again. We always us it [as motivation]. Even now during spring training when we are running players bring it up being like, 'Remember what happened in the Final Four when we were dying in the second half and we were all out of legs? This running now is what will help us then.' It's been brought up a bunch of times around already."
Videira wants a few more things before he's done in Durham, including a Duke degree and national championship trophy. And what's to stop him? He's from Boston, the city of champions.
Adam Zundell works for the University of Maryland. He can be reached at email@example.com