By John McCarty, Staff Writer -- firstname.lastname@example.org
In the days leading up to the 2011 MLS superdraft, senior midfielder Jarad vanSchaik jokingly asked former teammate and current Real Salt Lake midfielder Collen Warner to put in the good word for him.
VanSchaik may have been joking, but the RSL coaching staff wasn't when they selected him in the third round of the draft, 52nd overall.
The MLS superdraft took place on Jan. 13 at the NSCAA convention in Baltimore and according to vanSchaik, the days prior to the draft were quiet until he heard from RLS head coach Jason Kreis on draft day.
"I was definitely excited and surprised, I'm grateful for the opportunity to go and prove myself and to play at the next level," vanSchaik said. "When you go to a school to play a sport you want to keep playing, and going pro is something every young player dreams of."
VanSchaik will join UP alumnus Collen Warner on the pitch in Salt Lake.
"It's good that he's back with Warner," Director of soccer Bill Irwin said. "It's nice to have a friendly face and they played well together so he'll fit right in."
According to vanSchaik, the coaching staff and the professional manner in which they run the UP soccer program allowed him to succeed in turning pro.
"A lot of the things that Real Salt Lake does I'm already prepared for thanks to UP," vanSchaik said.
Though vanSchaik played midfield all four years, finishing his collegiate career with 13 goals and 14 assists, it is undecided if he will play midfield in Salt Lake. According to vanSchaik, Real Salt Lake has a lot of veteran midfield players so they have been trying him at left defensive back.
"Jarad is a pretty versatile player and could fit in a couple positions. He's got a nice left foot and lefties are well sought after," Irwin said.
VanSchaik says that he isn't completely comfortable playing left back yet but it takes getting used to.
"I tend to take things as they come. First, I had to see if I could play well at the collegiate level and now I will have to do the same thing in the pros," vanSchaik said.
"I'm really happy for Jarad. He had four good years here and he deserves it," Irwin said. "He can play at the next level in my mind."