The Kickapoo Chiefs, coming off of their 3rd place finish at State last year, now have a second member of this years team scheduled to play Division I college soccer next year. Senior Ryan Moses recently accepted an offer from Head Coach Dan Donigan to represent the nationally ranked St Louis University Billikens, where he will join his friend and club teammate Devon Newport (Glendale). Goalkeeper Chris ‘Tommy’ Tombridge, also a teammate on the club squad, earlier committed to Northwestern.
Ryan will be the second Kickapoo Chief to play for the Billikens, following Jack Jewsbury’s tenure from 1999-2002, after which he was drafted by the Kansas City Wizards. Much like Jack, Ryan is a forward who prides himself on his ability to score goals. Jack is excelling for the Wizards at outside back again this season, and Ryan is also being called on to play a significantly different role for the Chiefs this year. He’ll be playing in front of Tombridge as the central defender, focused first on shutting down opposing teams attacks while also taking responsibility for leading the team from the back with his fellow seniors. It will be a challenge for a young man who is used to playing with his back to the opposing teams goal. Here’s what his Coach, Phil Hodge, had to say about it:
Ryan has taken this team on his shoulders this year. He is offering tremendous leadership and a work ethic that does not stop. Ryan is in the weight room before practice and often times after practice as well. While Ryan knows where he will be next year he has not forgotten about his Senior year at Kickapoo. Ryan will be a captain for us this fall, along with Chris, and has high expectations for his Senior year.
Ryan is a Springfield kid, living in the same house his entire life, and soccer has been his window to the world. While he played some basketball and ran track at Cherokee Middle School, soccer soon captured his sole attention. Whether playing for the “Surge” or later, with Newport on a Springfield Premier squad beginning at the U12 age group, he’s been testing himself on an increasingly larger stage every year. Olympic Development (ODP) programs, and then in the Midwest Regional League (MRL) with Springfield SC, he and his teammates opened eyes back in 2007 when they finally broke through and won their first State Championship.
It was at those games in St Louis, soon after Ryan scored the game-winner against Lou Fusz in the quarterfinal round to get past their nemesis (the photo above is Ryan’s reaction after scoring) that College Soccer hit his radar. Joe Burger, formerly a Missouri State assistant and long time MSU Soccer Camps Coach, approached Ryan about the possibility of playing for Drake University, a member of the Missouri Valley Conference and alma mater of Ryan’s father Ron.
That spark of interest sent Ryan on a recruiting journey that culminated in his recent decision. He first worked with Jeremy Alumbaugh to compile a list of 10-15 schools that interested him. He began reaching out to the schools to express his interest in learning more about their program while also letting them know when they could see him play, whether at College Showcase games or MRL games. He attended a couple of summer camps, including the Indiana Hoosier Camp in 2007 as well as the Wisconsin Badgers Camp this past summer. He was narrowing his choices, and soon it looked like Missouri State, Wisconsin or SLU would be his college home.
I asked Jeremy, Director of Soccer Operations at Springfield SC, to offer some thoughts on Ryan
Ryan is a high quality athlete. The first thing you notice when you see him play is obviously his size, but he has so many more qualities than just a typical target forward. He is agile and has soft feet with a good knack for finding goals at the right time. He really enjoys working hard and is always staying after practice to improve his game. The coaching staff at SLU will love his desire to improve and he is a great addition to a quality SLU program.
The first conversations with Donigan, and the SLU staff, occurred at State Cup this Spring and continued at Regionals in Rockford, culminating in a formal visit to the campus in late June. It was during this visit that Ryan let the Coaches know he was interested in making a decision before school started and that he was interested in the Billikens. A formal offer was tendered soon after his visit and his final decision was made a week later.
Asked about his decision criteria, Ryan admitted to first wanting to see a bit of the world and leave Springfield, thus eliminating Missouri State from the equation. There were also discussions with other programs, including Wisconsin and DePaul, that expressed interest in having him play as a central defender in college. While it is a role he gladly assumes for the Chiefs this season, the goal-scoring responsibilities at forward are more to his liking. That, along with the opportunity to play at a program like SLU’s with it’s tradition and fan-base that sealed the decision for him. The Billikens averaged 2,116 fans for 10 home dates at Hermann Stadium last season, which ranked ninth in the nation.
Ryan will join a signing class that already numbers 8 for 2009, including a pair from Scott Gallagher in St Louis, 2 from TX and 2 from CA. This years recruiting class is ranked #24 in the country by College Soccer News and also includes 3 Division I transfers. The challenges will only get greater. I’m looking forward to watching his continuing progression!
On a somewhat related note, I asked Ryan what was in his music player the day I interviewed him. Apparently he’s a classic rock guy, having spent the weekend with his parents at the Lake rocking to the Doobie Brothers while picking up “Mothership”, a new 3 disc collection of the best of Led Zeppelin with some birthday cash. “Houses of the Holy” and “Led Zeppelin IV” both came out when I was in high school but I was busy discovering you “Can’t Buy A Thrill”.