The Goal of Stardom
May 15, 2023
From Carrollton to Sao Paulo, no other sport has inspired as many kids to chase their dreams as soccer; it’s the most played and watched sport in the world, after all. For many, soccer is just a fleeting hobby that they play with their friends, but for sophomore Ian Witis, it’s a full-time ambition. For many, soccer is just a fleeting hoppy they play with friends, but for sophomore Ian Witis — who is a member of varsity soccer and the MLS team FC Dallas’ youth program — it’s a full-time ambition.
“I was playing in the Dallas Cup three years ago against them, and I had a standout game, so they came to watch me play another game,” Witis said. ”[The FC Dallas recruiters] said they liked my attacking style and liked the way I communicated on the field. I had [also] bagged a couple of goals against the other team and they loved it, so they invited me out to train.”
Though he is being coached by a professional team’s youth squad, Witis also owes a lot of his success to Hebron’s coaching staff, who he said has motivated him a lot in his journey.
“[Head coach Matt] Zimmerman is a phenomenal coach — he’s helped me a lot mentally,” Witis said. “He’s always there for me, usually after I make a bad play or the ball is taken away. I put my head down and Zimmy is always there and [is] like, ‘Keep your head up.’ They always want what’s best for me.”
Witis celebrates after a goal as the opposing team looks on in disappointment. Witis is currently ranked #5 in the state and #2 position ranked in Texas. (Photo provided by Danny Patiño)
Witis’ offensive playing style was one of the several factors that led to him catching the eye of a professional team. FC Dallas Youth coach and former soccer player Gabriel Gentile explained several aspects of his game and what made Witis a target for FC Dallas.
“I saw Ian play several years ago against my team and watched him play in the Classic League in Dallas,” Gentile explained. “He was a player that we were interested in due to his potential. [He] was a need on our team.”
But with big potential comes an even bigger responsibility, and going pro is no easy task. Gentile, a former pro himself reflects on how he can break through and succeed in the sport.
“He needs to keep in mind that it is not easy [to go pro] and he needs to continue to work hard and improve,” Gentile said. “He needs to have discipline and take care of his body by resting and eating well.”
With experience in a youth program and high school-level soccer, Witis said he plans to take his game to the next level in a professional squad. Despite having high ambitions, Witis still makes an effort not to forget his roots — however, Witis would still like to take it to the next level, if possible.
“If I do go pro, I’d much rather play for a team like FC Dallas, so I can stay close to my family and friends and keep those connections and bonds that I have right now,” Witis said. “[But] later in my career, I’d like to go to the Premier League, maybe Aston Villa or Everton.”