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Iowa homeschooler named to national youth soccer team
By Andrea Longbottom
|Photo courtesy of the Iowa Soccer Association and the Iowa Sports Connection|
Fourteen-year-old Ian Christianson is running towards his goal. In October 2004, the homeschooler was named to the United States Under-14 Men's National Team, which consists of the top 36 U.S. soccer players born in 1991 and participates in national and international matches.
The teen from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, started playing soccer at age 5, and his love for the sport grew as he learned more techniques. "I guess I liked using my feet instead of my hands," says Ian. He began to receive formal training by playing in soccer clubs and participating in U.S. Youth Soccer Association programs. Ian's placement on the National Team followed his excellent performance on both state and regional teams. Ian was one of four from his region (and the only player from Iowa) to make the U14 National Team.
Ian is the team's central midfielder, which means he stays near the center of the field and is responsible for intercepting the ball and distributing it. The position requires quick, strategic thinking and the ability to play both defense and offense. As a member of the National Team, Ian is sharpening these skills through training from top coaches. In January 2005, the team traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, for a U.S. Soccer Developmental Camp, where the players received intense training and competed against Mexican junior professional teams. "The speed of play was a lot faster than I was used to," Ian says, adding that the opposing players were also very aggressive. "It was tough," he says. "They were good players. But it was a great experience."
Ian is the only homeschooler on the U14 Men's National Team. He has been homeschooled since kindergarten, along with four of his five siblings. "When I get my studies done, I can go straight outside to practice," he says. Ian's mother, Joyce Christianson, says her son's "communication and problem-solving skills on the field are hailed, as well as his dedication and hard work ethic, all results, I believe, of homeschooling." Even though Ian devotes hours to soccer practice, he finds time to enjoy other hobbies, including skateboarding and tubing.
Professional soccer is Ian's goal for the future. "I want to keep developing [as a soccer player], keep playing against older, better players, and continue to be on the National Team," he says. In July 2005, Ian will try out for the 2005/2006 Under-15 Men's National Team.