PRINCETON: Little Tigers soccer pair to get kicks abroad

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Chase Ealy and Nick Kapp weren’t thrilled by their options when it came to where they would go to college after graduating from Princeton High School.
But that all changed when Ealy’s mother came across some information about the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy in Leeds in the United Kingdom.
“I was originally looking at Stony Brook and was committed verbally but ended up not going,” said Ealy, who along with Kapp graduated from Princeton High on Tuesday. “I was taking a serious look at Seton Hall and then my mother came to me out of the blue and said she was doing some research online and found a program I might be interested in.
“I had to go to a tryout in Orlando. It looked interesting. I met the staff for the RIASA program and the staff was great. I loved the coaches and opportunity that it would give me. I was down there three or four days and thought I played well. At the end of the weekend they came and said we would like it if you applied to program. We think you can be on our first or second team.”
And with that, Ealy was off to England to be part of a unique experience. When he got to talking to his former Little Tiger teammate about the program, Kapp was interested as well.
“Two kids from my club team were going and I found out earlier they went to Orlando as well,” Kapp said. “They had mentioned it but it didn’t sit in my head until Chase said he was going. He told me I should try it and I decided I would. When I contacted them they said no scout could see me before May 1 so I had to fly over there and try out. It worked out because I got to look at everything and see the campus, which was really nice.
“The campus used to be an old World War II hospital that they converted into classrooms. Everyone there was very welcoming. When I went over I played with the freshmen and sophomores and then they had me training with the first team. But there isn’t anything final. When we get there they look at us all playing and decide which level we will be.”
The program allows individuals to work on the soccer all year round while also working towards an American undergraduate degree.
“The best way to describe it is they don’t have college soccer over there so this is like an independent program,” Ealy said. “The program is a soccer academy and they have five teams in the academy. There are four teams playing in independent leagues throughout England and the first team is the reserve team for the League 3 Bradford City team.
“They train you and you play in games for whatever team in the academy they put you on. At the same time you go to school at Richmond International outside of Liverpool.”
The program seems ideal for soccer players with an eye on one day playing professionally. Ealy and Kapp will have the best of both worlds as they continue to improve on the soccer field while also advancing academically.
“It has always been my goal to take soccer as far as I can,” Ealy said. “A program like this lets me play for an academy side of an English professional club while also going to school. If you play well you can get a contract offer after a year or two.”
Added Kapp: “I am really excited and looking forward to it. It is a whole different take on the college soccer experience. You’re in a new country. We’ll be playing a lot of semi professional teams and some professional reserve teams.”
Ealy and Kapp will both head to school in late August with classes set to begin in early September. They will spend the summer training for what will certainly be a unique experience.
“A lot of the kids I play soccer with all want to go to college with potentially going pro and making careers out of it,” Ealy said. “That’s hard to do. You spend four of your best playing years in college. I saw this program as something that sort of streamlines you getting noticed by pro scouts. They have a couple of combines each year. If you are on the first team and someone offers you a contract you can sign.”
Both players are excited to be heading to an environment where soccer is the top sport. It’s something they have been hearing about for quite some time and will now get the chance to experience themselves.
“I know (Princeton) Coach (Wayne) Sutcliffe is thrilled,” Ealy said. “Where we will be is close to where he did his coaches training so he’s excited for us. I am a little disappointed I won’t be able to come back and see the Princeton guys play during the year. Soccer is the sport over there and it will be great to be able to play over there.”
Added Kapp: “I know Coach Sutcliffe is a big Liverpool fan and that is near where we will be. We’ll be able to send him back some stuff. It’s going to be fun. In addition to Chase, two guys from my club team are going to be in the program as well.”
For Kapp, it was an opportunity that came along at just the right time.
“I didn’t get a lot of emails from coaches here about coming to play,” Kapp said. “I had one school interested that I wasn’t crazy about. This program is the only school that caught my eye so that was why I chose this. Another draw is that it is a new country I had never been to before.
“The program is set up so the main degree is International Sports Management, which is what I was looking at here. Freshman year there are a lot of general education classes then sophomore, junior and senior year classes get smaller as well as get more specific.”
For both players, the opportunity is a perfect one that came along at just the right time.