Justin Sukow, Reagan class of 2017, lettered all four years in soccer and was captain of the team. During his soccer career at Reagan, he received many awards, including Offensive Player of the Year (2016), MVP, All-Region Player and was a regional finalist in 2016. After high school, he went on to play at the college level for the University of Southern Carolina and then Loyola University Chicago. Justin recently took some time to share the experiences along his journey.
Q: How did you get started in soccer at Reagan?
A: I always played soccer. I played private club at Lone Star since it started. I just knew I wanted to play at Reagan. I started my Freshman year in the JV class.
Q: Who inspired you while you were playing soccer at Reagan?
A: When I was a freshman/sophomore, the older players at Reagan inspired me. I was really young and got to train with the varsity team as a Freshman towards the end of the year. I wasn’t used the physicality and their level of play so I watched them and did what they did.
Q: What was your favorite memory from Reagan soccer?
A: I would have to say the playoff run my Junior year. I think we made it to the 5th round in Brownsville, almost making it to the state semi-finals. Every single playoff game you win is an incredible feeling. Every single one of those wins was really special.
Q: What led you to want to play soccer for the University of South Carolina?
A: I visited a couple of schools during high school. When I visited South Carolina, I met some of the players and fell in love with the whole environment. They had really nice facilities and if felt like the right place for me. I chose to go there to start my college career.
Q: What led you to want to transfer to Loyola University Chicago?
A: I transferred the winter after my sophomore year at South Carolina, in January. I was recruited by Loyola out of high school, as well. I knew the coaches at Loyola already. When I spoke with them, they said they had a lot of confidence in me and I’d be able to come in and make an impact right away. The coaches said they had a really good plan for me.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced moving from high school to collegiate soccer?
A: As you move from high school to college, the game is a lot faster, the players are stronger and better and you have to adapt to that. I went to the gym and worked out a lot so I could be super fit when I started college. I had to learn to play faster and look for the options off the ball so I knew where I’d go with the ball when I got it.
Q: You made the honor roll in college several times. How did you balance school with your soccer schedule?
A: The universities provided a lot of resources. They usually have study rooms, free tutors, so it’s really easy. Time management is key. Going to class is the easy part. Everyone can show up to class. It’s the homework. You have to make sure you take care of that. It was pretty easy to set a schedule, stick to it, and get my homework done every day.
Q: You chose to go professional and forgo playing soccer in your senior year in college. How hard was that decision?
A: It was a really tough decision to make. Going to college, I never imagined I’d only play for three years. I saw myself playing soccer for four years. Honestly, it was the COVID situation. When that came about in March, we were all sent home. We were not allowed to train anymore. I started thinking about turning pro in the summer when things weren’t getting better and college sports were getting delayed. People kept asking me what I was going to do if we didn’t have a soccer season and I didn’t really want to think about it. I was already set to graduate in December. I talked it over with my parents and my coaches and decided that moving to the next level would be best for me. I’m still finishing in December, taking classes online. The most important thing for me was to get my degree.
Q: What advice would you give to Rattler soccer players who want to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level?
A: Enjoy the process and grind every day at practice. You can’t look too far ahead and say “I want to play in college” but it always stays in the back of your mind. The way you get there, the way you get recruited, is to take it day by day and focus on what is going on in the next practice. If you just focus on the long-term goal, you might not make it. But if you focus on what you want to accomplish today, to get better every single day, the results will take care of itself.
Q: What are your final thoughts as you prepare to make your debut as a professional soccer player with Reno 1868FC?
A: The current USL season is more than halfway finished. I signed for the rest of 2020. We have 2-3 weeks left in the regular season and then the playoffs. I’m just trying to get better every single day in training. There are a lot of really good players. Hopefully, they will see the improvement and I’ll get to play. There is a chance we would play San Antonio in the playoffs. I’m kinda hoping to make the roster and come play in San Antonio. That would be pretty good!
Justin, we appreciate your time in sharing your journey. We wish all you the best as a new player for Reno 1868 FC! To learn more about Justin, click HERE.
Photograph Used With Permission by Steve Woltmann Photography