Crimson Bears' Paul in the center of it all

Soccer season right around the corner for defending championsBy McLEAN CANNON

Posted: Monday, March 07, 2011

With the soccer season right around the corner, the JDHS defending state champion boys’ team is set to travel to Spokane, Wash., to take on some of the best competition the state of Washington has to offer. Senior center midfielder Riley Paul realizes it’s time to get down to business. Paul, who was named to the All-State Tournament Team last season as a junior, said he likes to spend most of his free time outdoors, has an interest in both anatomy and law and is an avid Arsenal fan. He said after his prep career is over he intends to take his game to the next level and play soccer at a Division III college.

Do you play any other sports besides soccer?

“I played tennis all four years of high school. Soccer is definitely my primary sport and I enjoy it more, but both are fun. I think there’s something to be said about soccer being a team sport. I really enjoy sharing the good and the bad moments with a team and working together.

What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not playing soccer?

“I like to hang out with friends, go skiing and biking and do stuff outdoors. I’m an active person and I like to do active stuff.”

What are your academic interests?

“This year I’ve found my anatomy class really interesting. Being an athlete, I like to learn about the body and it’s functions. I can kind of relate to stuff I’ve experienced as an athlete, like muscle pain or injuries. I’ve always been interested in human physiology and how people are built. I’m also enjoying my law class and I liked my American government class that I took last semester. I really have enjoyed the teacher, (Gary) Lehnhart, for both those classes. I think it’s interesting to learn about the constitution and the legal and political systems. I like debating, getting into opinionated discussions and learning about the way our country is run. Having Gary as a teacher and a coach has never been a problem. I don’t think of him any differently. In the classroom, he’s my teacher, and on the field, he’s my soccer coach.”

What’s your plan for next year?

“I’ve applied to several colleges, mostly in the Pacific Northwest, but I haven’t decided on one yet. I’m probably looking to play soccer at the D-III level. I’m looking at Whitman, Pacific Lutheran, Pacific and Occidental as possible soccer schools.”

Do you follow professional soccer? Do you have a favorite team or player?

“Yes, definitely. I like watching the English Premier League, which is the highest level in England. It’s on every weekend and I watch it. My favorite team to follow is Arsenal. They’re a very technically talented team. They’re very good at passing, have good movement off the ball and really creative playmaking. They never score a boring goal. I’d say my favorite player is Cesc Fabregas. He plays center midfield for Arsenal and he’s a Spaniard. He’s got great vision, is really good at passing and he’s the playmaker and leader of the team, so I kind of aspire to play like him. But I’m really my own player.”

How do you feel about your team’s chances heading into the games in Spokane?

“We have some really high-profile games. I know we are playing Lake Stevens and Bellarmine Prep, and one of them is like the second biggest school in Seattle. So, there are some pretty well-known programs that we’re going to be playing against, and that will help our regional and national ranking. Last year, we went down there and went undefeated and beat some of the best teams in the state of Washington, so I feel pretty good about it.”

What’s going to be most important for you guys to repeat as state champs?

“We need to stay injury free and play for each other as a team. I think the hardest part about being defending state champions is the high expectations and the fact that we’re the team to beat. We’re going to have to not let the success of last year go to our heads and go out this season with a clean slate, knowing that we have to work just as hard to succeed.”

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