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NWC’s Younger leading next generation of Trappers

NWC sophomore Jay Younger exchanges pleasantries with members of the Laramie County Community College soccer team. NWC sophomore Jay Younger exchanges pleasantries with members of the Laramie County Community College soccer team. Tribune photo by Don Cogger

For soccer midfielder and Newcastle, England, native Jay Younger, it was former Trappers head coach Rob Hill who convinced him to give Northwest College a shot.

“The old coach [Hill] was English; that’s what attracted us to come all the way out here,” Younger explained. “I wouldn’t really say this was a place I’d normally go for, but since there was the English connection, I found myself here.”

As a freshman, Younger was named to the North Region 1st Team and was the leading scorer in the NJCAA Region IX. He began playing organized soccer around the age of 5, and has played for various professional teams in his home country.

“I started off in the junior sort of levels, like Sunday league style,” Younger said. “I then quickly got in to playing for professional teams like Newcastle and Chesterfield. That’s what I played for most of my career before I came here.”

Now nearing the end of his sophomore season, Younger said this Trappers team has a different feel than last year’s. He credits first-year head coach Stan Rodrigues and his team-oriented style of coaching for the change.

“I would have to say the team is more like a family now,” he said. “The people enjoy playing together, and we look at each other as if we would defend each other all the way down to the wire. It has been better, and as you can see by the results, it’s working.”

The biggest difference, according to Younger, is the family aspect coach Rodrigues and his wife Angela have tried to instill since the first day of practice.

“We do more things together,” Younger said of the team. “Last year, we’d only see each other during meal times or here and there during the day. We’re doing more activities together this year, and I think that really helps on the pitch.”

For his part, coach Rodrigues said Younger is the kind of player always leading by example.

“Jay is class,” Rodrigues said, quipping that, “Not only does he have the stunning good looks, Jay also has a poacher’s mind.”

“He can read the game; he plays the game down to the fundamental basics,” the coach said of Younger. “He doesn’t feel like he needs to always be the star, but he also is usually the guy putting the ball in the back of the net, because he’s a true poacher.”

As a sophomore, Younger has relished his role as a leader to the younger players — many of whom are away from friends and family for the first time in their lives.

“To be fair, we didn’t really have that kind of leadership last year,” he said. “I think it’s better for these guys, and I think that’s what has helped them improve.”

Rodrigues agreed.

“He’s a great leader, he’s a quiet leader,” Rodrigues said. “He’s very positive and a great role model for the younger kids.”

And how is it playing for coach Rodrigues?

“Brilliant. I think he’s a very good coach,” Younger said. “He’s very demanding, but I think that’s what a team needs in order to do well. We need to be working hard, because we know the other teams will be working hard as well.”

As for the season itself, Younger is happy with the strides made since the beginning and is looking forward to making a little noise in the playoffs.

“I think we’ve bounced back really well from our losses, and the team is very motivated to do well,” he said. “It is looking good.”

After this season, Younger hopes to move on to a four-year university, preferably here in the states.

“I’d like to continue playing, see how long I can go,” Younger said. “But I will definitely be here.”

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