It wasn't as though Blake Rosener set out, right from the start, intent on becoming a soccer player.
It certainly wasn't as though soccer was the first introduction to sport for the quotable grade eight student at St Charles College.
It was moreso a fit that just felt natural, one that has grown increasingly comfortable as the talented 13 year old continues to work his way up the
ladder of progress.
"I think I like soccer because I am good at it," he suggested, perhaps stating the obvious. "I scored three goals in the championship game at
Falconbridge, I think I was six or seven. But in Falconbridge and in houseleague, you would just run all over."
It was time to see if the skill-set could be duplicated while competing among more like-minded pre-teens. The transition to the Greater Sudbury Soccer
Club (GSSC), and all of the teachings that come with it, was virtually seemless.
"It's more technical now," explained Rosener. "Now you have to be in your position, play it up the line and stuff." Thankfully, this was less of a
baptism by fire, and more of a refinement of concepts that had already been introduced, very close to home.
"Last year (2017), it wasn't competitive yet, but my dad was coaching me," said Rosener. "He made us play our positions, taught us all that." Apparently,
Doug Rosener taught them well. Though a tad apprehensive out of the gate, the youngster was rapidly grabbing the spotlight, in many cases, doing all of the
little things that those who coach rep soccer truly appreciate.
"At first, I thought the other players were going to be better than me, and some of them were," said Rosener. "But I realized that I was pretty good
with them too, especially my dribbling and defending. When I dribble the ball, I keep it close to my feet. I take a lot of touches with it, and I have a lot
of moves that I do."
For the long-time Garson native, who shares the homestead with a younger brother and two step siblings, a sport could be both enjoyable and driven. "I
liked how competitive it was," said Rosener. "It was just more fun, because it was harder."
Like most who excel in the recreational ranks, Rosener was no stranger to the scoresheet. What was different was the fact that he often generated these
chances, starting from his inate propensity in wanting to provide support at the back end.
Once with the GSSC, the move from midfielder to defender/fullback seemed only natural. "I think they probably liked that I could get the ball out of the
back and play it up to the midfielders or the strikers," he noted. "It was a bit of an adjustment."
"I am a left fullback, so I still go up to support." A right-footed kicker while playing to his strong side, Rosener is working hard on garnering the
competencies needed to excel on what amounts to his off-wing.
"If I need to get the ball down the field, it's sometimes hard to kick it as hard as I could with my left foot," he said. "If I'm just making a short
pass, it's easy, but if I'm trying to clear it and it's on my left foot, sometimes it's hard."
Perhaps it was this self-awareness, or more accurately, his willingness to do whatever it takes to improve on those areas of his game that require
improvement that would catch the eye of provincial talent assessors.
Whatever the case, Rosener overcame an initial trepidation, once again, becoming one of only three local players who were invited to a second stage of
assessments in Vaughan in the fall.
"I was nervous, because I really wanted to play my best," he said. "I thought I had played pretty good, when I went out. It was different, because there
were other kids, not from Sudbury, that were there too, and older kids even."
Striking the proper balance between doing enough to get noticed, while remaining committed to a team concept at tryouts, is seldom easy. Rosener had a
plan. "I wanted to show them how I could get through one guy and then pass it up to the midfielder, show them my dribbling and stuff," he said.
While the early tendencies of young soccer players often drifts quickly to the more offensive facets of the game, Rosener has always taken great pride in
his ability to slow down, or completely stymie, the opposition.
"I just do my job, pretty much stop them and get the ball up the field," he said. "I stay between the player and the goal, so that he has a hard time
shooting. You can't let him shoot. You need to be on him right away."
"Scoring is not what a defender is supposed to do."
Don't look now, Blake Rosener, but you are becoming a soccer player, through and through.