Brandon Jordi is trading in a soccer ball for a football, as the longtime soccer player joins the Richmond Spiders football team as a kicker.
Since the university administrators announced their decision to cut the men's soccer program last semester, freshman soccer player Brandon Jordi has decided to stay and pursue other athletic opportunities. He tried out and made the football team as a kicker.
This is not Jordi's first time dabbling with the pigskin. After his high school football team's kicker was injured, Jordi's best friend, who was on the team, encouraged Jordi to fill in. Jordi, who was listed as a midfielder and a forward on the men's soccer team roster, ended up kicking two games for his high school football team in Charlotte, N.C. The South Charlotte Weekly named him a Special Teams Player of the Week.
"My high school football coaches told me that if I pursued football, I would have a chance to make it far," Jordi said. "I love the sport and watch it all of the time. Now I actually have the opportunity to pursue it."
Jordi said he had friends on the football team who had given him details about whom to contact.
Open tryouts for the football team are held the first week of both the fall and spring semesters, said Erin O'Riley, director of football operations. O'Riley said she had sent out a Spiderbyte to all of Richmond's male students with information regarding the tryouts.
Any full time student could try out. O'Riley said the players had to run and participate in drills, some being position-specific. The team holds tryouts for various positions, but will concentrate its efforts on the positions that are lacking in numbers, O'Riley said.
Because three special teams players had graduated last year, the team was "in the market for a kicker and punter," O'Riley said. Five men tried out for the special teams squad, and the team chose to keep three of them. While no one in the football program was able to comment on Jordi directly because he is not officially on the team's roster, O'Riley said a situation like his was ideal because of the similarities between soccer and football kicks.
"I'm so thankful to coach Rocco and everyone on the team, and I hope to make an impression on and off the field," Jordi said.
Jordi said he still could not believe he would be playing Division I football, but did note that there had been a transition.
"The first few days were definitely intimidating," he said. "But everyone has been really nice, and I've made friends on the team." He said he had been lifting and running with his new teammates Monday through Friday as part of off-season training.
Despite having a soccer player's stature (Jordi is listed as 5 feet 8 inches tall on the soccer roster), Jordi said he did not think going up against 300-pound linebackers would be a problem, and that with practice, he would be successful.
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Although he said he was excited, Jordi said he was going to miss his old sport. "Soccer has been my whole life," he said. "I worked so hard for a scholarship. It was really tough to have it all taken away in the blink of an eye."
Jordi, however, is not sulking. "I'm so lucky and happy to be playing on a team again," he said.
Contact reporter Renee Ruggeri at email@example.com
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