CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Judd Wagner lost his high school season this fall but saw it as an opportunity.
“Once I found out that high school soccer in Illinois was postponed to the spring, and I realized that our state is not open to club soccer, I had to figure out how I wanted to play,” Wagner said.
For the Central senior, that meant crossing state lines. He earned a spot on the Indiana Fire, after trying out this summer. They’re an affiliate for the Chicago Fire MLS team, and play under the USA soccer development academy, which is the highest level for high school athletes.
“Playing the best teams in the country and being able to compete with top teams all over, so that alone just gives everyone a drive, and you have to play well every practice,” said Wagner. “The training is just off the charts, and that’s what I like, especially the environment that they’re creating over there, just competitive and fun.”
Wagner does remote learning in the morning, making it possible for him to drive Carmel, Indiana for practice in the afternoon. He says the four-hour drive round trip is worth it.
“My goal and dream is to play in college, and at the highest level that I can, so this gives me the opportunity to show show my talents,” he said. “That’s a big reason for it too, is a lot of exposure will come from it. Obviously COVID is awful but it’s nice that a positive did come out of it.”
He scored 14 goals for the Maroons last season, and has a couple offers from Division I programs, but didn’t want to disclose which schools. Wagner hopes to improve his stock before his final high school season in the spring.