Student-athlete profile: DeFeyter primed for best soccer yet
By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director
SEWARD, Neb. – Senior-to-be Chris DeFeyter has escaped the unforgiving desert sun of his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz., by remaining in Seward over the summer for the first time in his college career. It was a typical weekday for the Bulldog soccer standout, who donned the scrubs from his job at Ridgewood Rehab and Care Center as he discussed a challenging summer slate of full-time work as a CNA and what’s in store for his senior season.
A breakout performer in 2013, DeFeyter tallied six goals as a second team all-conference attacking midfielder. With all-time leading goal scorer Nathan Douglas having graduated, DeFeyter will be looked upon for even greater production and leadership.
“With Dougie we were a completely different team. There’s no doubt about it,” DeFeyter said. “With him leaving it will hurt us a little bit but I don’t think it’s going to necessarily drain us. I think we’ll bounce back and be better. With Dougie we played a lot more direct and to him and tried to work off of him. Now we’re going to have to try to learn how to play with each other. I thought through spring season we really proved that we can do that.”
DeFeyter, who will be a captain again in 2014, stands out among a group of veteran players that includes Sean Doran, Gideon Soenksen and Mark Campbell. DeFeyter has been part of a transition from a young Concordia squad two years ago to one with a wealth of experience. Now entering his final season, the Saguaro High School prep has a good handle on exactly what role he will need to play.
“Without Douglas there’s not that X factor so it might be me mixing it up a little bit more, going at a player or looking for that through ball through,” DeFeyter said. “I think personally it’s going to be me being in shape and me being ready for whatever I need to do.”
The Grand Canyon State understands that his increased responsibilities will be as a role model for the rest of the team. DeFeyter is the sort of calm, confident leader that makes him an ideal captain.
“I tend to try to lead on the field,” DeFeyter said. “I use my vocals pretty well but generally it’s mainly what I do on the field that people try to follow.”
Head coach Jason Weides has noticed a rise in maturity in DeFeyter, who has increasingly developed confidence while working to define himself on the field and among his teammates.
“As he gained experience, teammates began to look up to him as a leader within the team,” Weides said. “I think that Chris struggled with the idea being a leader initially because he was uncertain what it meant to be a leader. Now he better understands that he doesn’t need to be a perfect leader or a cookie cutter version of a leader. He just needs to be himself and trust in his the abilities God has given him. As a senior, I see a guy that has embraced his leadership role and is well prepared to thrive in it.”
Before the focus shifts to what DeFeyter does on the field, the exercise science major will concentrate on advancing his career pursuits and staying in shape. Work shifts at Ridgewood vary from graveyard hours to more normal day labor. That means DeFeyter hits Bulldog Stadium when he can, sometimes early in the morning or late into the evening.
“Throughout this whole summer it’s been work and working out. That’s been about it,” DeFeyter said. “End of summer I’m going back to Arizona. I’m flying out of Denver. I have two older brothers and they’re going to meet in Colorado and we’re going to go on a big camping trip before the season starts. It will help me get my mind off things and relax a little bit.”
Even while on vacation, DeFeyter is likely to call up visions of himself playing the game he loves. The son of a father who played collegiate soccer and a mother who excelled in track and field, DeFeyter is an all-around athlete who enjoyed playing basketball and baseball and running track while growing up in Arizona. But none of those sports could provide him quite the same thrill as soccer did.
“I was playing it a lot,” DeFeyter said. “My mom used to be a track star so I got my legs from her. I was doing track, soccer, basketball and baseball. I was quick with basketball. Baseball I could chase down fly balls. I was always good with my legs. Soccer was the thing that stuck. I always did better at it.
“It wasn’t really a choice. I was playing competitive soccer since fourth grade. Basketball and baseball were just in leagues and different recs. I stuck with soccer and told my parents I wanted a scholarship.”
Seeking something different, DeFeyter aspired to find the right institution outside of his home state. He wanted to get away, experience new places and meet new people. The two-time all-state Arizona prep visited schools in Colorado such as Mesa State, Metro State and Adams State as well as Oklahoma Wesleyan before settling on Concordia.
Weides first saw DeFeyter at a showcase in Colorado and was immediately interested in bringing him on board. Weides and Concordia made an undoubtedly positive impression on DeFeyter, who called the campus “homey.”
A few years later, DeFeyter feels validation in his decision to make Concordia his home. He cites the close friendships he’s developed as confirmation. Plus he’s blossomed as a star doing what God intended him to do. He just may be the Bulldogs’ most reliable goal scorer in 2014.
“Chris has always been a pivotal and dynamic player for us but seems ready to take another step forward in his play,” Weides said. “One area that wouldn’t surprise me to see him improve would be his goal scoring. He set a personal best for goals this past fall and his finishing ability has continued to improve around the net this offseason. DeFeyter’s greatest impact on our team this fall will be all of the intangibles he provides that can’t be measured on the score sheet.”
Asked to lay out what would make for a successful senior season, DeFeyter framed his answer in terms of the team.
Says DeFeyter, “I just think we need to play well together. We need to play direct sometimes but more with each other, and we need to be able to trust each other.”
According to his head coach, there’s no reason not to trust in DeFeyter, primed for his best soccer yet.
27 June 2014