Caden Theodbald’s soccer odyssey from Daniel Island, South Carolina, to Evanston, Illinois, to play for Northwestern University had many side trips to Florida where he played for the Jacksonville FC.
From Jacksonville, he would often travel to Miami and points west across the country, with trips commencing on Wednesdays and concluding late into Sunday nights.
It was such an endeavor that his parents David and Danielle struck a deal to handle the travel aspects of chasing a soccer dream. Danielle got a new car for the soccer trips and might have gone from road warrior to road weary with around 80,000 miles on the new car in approximately just over a year.
Theobald, as a result, received a scholarship to play as a midfielder for the Wildcats, a team that plays in one of the top two or three soccer conferences in the country: The Big 10.
“I wasn’t planning to go to college this year,” said Theobald, who lives in the shadows of Bishop England High School, but was home-schooled. “I was going to load up on courses to get a jump on
But that all changed when Northwestern hired Russell Payne as its coach in early May after he coached 11 seasons at West Point. Payne has developed talent at the highest level, serving as a U.S. Men’s National Team from 2015-17 and as a current assistant coach for four youth national programs.
“I talked with him, and I liked what I heard,” Theobald said. “I flew out June 1, and it was the first time I met him. In just five weeks, I was on campus.”
Theobald opted to play as a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which was formed in 2007. It featured youth academies and youth clubs from various organizations, including Major League Soccer and the United States Soccer League to develop world-class players. However, it went under in 2020 because of the financial hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although he didn’t attend high school, Wando High School was almost a second home when it came time for proms,
semi-formals and other teenage social circumstances.
“My friends always joked that I was a high-schooler who didn’t go to high school,” Theobald said.
Now, he’s playing at the college level although he won’t turn 18 until next March. Making an adjustment to college athletics can be difficult because some of the players on Northwestern are 5-7 years older than him.
He’s already played in his first game for the Wildcats, who entered this week with a 2-3-2 record. The Wildcats faced a big challenge when they played nationally ranked Indiana on Sept. 21.
He dreams about playing soccer professionally.
“That’s my goal; to go pro,” Theobald said. “But I plan to get a degree.”
That’s a smart decision because you never know in today’s world. Theobald knows this firsthand. He considered playing in Spain but the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans.
But his soccer journey remains intact. Afterall, his mother’s new car mileage speaks about the family’s commitment to success.