Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City), Brenton Griffiths (Colorado Rapids) and now, Oneil Fisher; the Tyler Junior College soccer program has done it again. Since 2012, the Major League Soccer (MLS) has been drafting athletes that began their college athletic careers in the esteemed TJC soccer program and have gone on to thrive in different schools. It is one thing to be at the developmental base of one player, but when you have done it for three consecutive years, it cannot be denied that you are doing something right.
Originally born in Jamaica, Oneil Fisher came to TJC as a hard working, team oriented athlete looking for an opportunity to be developed.
“The biggest jump for an international student comes in between their first and second year,” said Head Coach Steve Clements.
An international student has to have a good support system around him in order for him to grow successfully. The mental areas of an athlete play a major role in his success throughout his athletic career. The TJC soccer program has to be able to get student athletes with a truly driven and motivated desire to be the best they can possibly be. Recruiting an athlete does not start and end with how fast or strong they are, but also goes into ability to adapt, their desire to learn, grow and be successful.
“We like guys that work hard. We’re all about work rate,” said Clements.
The TJC soccer program has to be full of dedicated athletes in order to be able to succeed as they have. Fisher was one of those dedicated athletes. He was known to be a hard worker, unselfish and very team oriented.
“It was his drive and determination as well as his opportunity to go to a great school like New Mexico that paved the way for his success,” said Clements.
While at TJC, Fisher was surrounded by good teammates and a great training staff and administration. In his freshman season, he scored 5 goals in only six appearances for the Apaches. He went on to make 14 appearances in the following season and was named National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) First Team All-American. The TJC soccer program hopes to put more players into better positions to succeed by helping them find great schools and more exposure.
“Coach knows what he’s doing as far as developing players,” said TJC soccer player Zachary Carrillo. “I think this is the smartest way to go in terms of coming from high school and going straight into college. I’ve grown here, especially with some of these guys that are out of country player and played at a different level than I have. It has stepped up my game.”
Going to school in New Mexico opened the doors for Fisher to play in the Final Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Competition. While at New Mexico, Fisher started 18 out of 22 games becoming one of 12 players that recorded over 1000 minutes played. As a right back, his defensive line had eleven games without a goal scored on them. In 2014, he scored three game winning goals that resulted in him being named C-USA offensive player of the week. He has scored 4 goals for New Mexico and has played 1208 minutes.
The TJC soccer program has played an inspiring developmental role in many students, whose names may not be in the spotlight, but have risen none-the-less, putting 3 other athletes in the MLS Combine.
“All of our guys are going on and graduating at those great schools. They have continually said how well prepared they were in the classroom after leaving here,“ said Clements
Educating their athletes is of the upmost importance and helping them succeed in the TJC classrooms is vital to their success.
“In the long run, coming here to a junior college before a university is better because classes are much cheaper,” said Carrillo. “By coming here you have better chances of getting a full ride [scholarship] for soccer.”