CLUTE — The only option that Bryce Hoffman saw to pursue a dream was to actually jump in feet first, to see what would come of it. Which is exactly what he did.
A former Brazoswood Buccaneer soccer player, Hoffman was a forward for the Bucs and wanted to take his game to the next level. Exceptional abilities on the field led him to play for the Houston Dynamo 18U squad.
That led to opportunities like playing in big time high school tournaments and scholarships from some colleges to continue playing the sport at the next level.
But then something happened before actually making a choice between UT Permian Basin, Northwestern Iowa and several other colleges that completely changed his life.
“Riesa Academy in England saw his videos and called, and we were going to a tournament in Las Vegas, and they were going to go watch him and some other kids,” said his mother, Ashley Dotson. “So they talked to him after one of the games and then they talked to the both of us on the second day. Then this other academy found out who Riesa was recruiting, they saw his (Bryce’s) video and made him a better offer at Elite Union Academy.”
Living in London, England, Hoffman has started his dream of pursuing a professional career in the sport at one of the places that plays the game to its finest.
“My dream was to play soccer, so now I can focus solely on my dream,” Hoffman said.
While in London, Hoffman will also attend the University of London.
“I will be attending that on my free time, but I will be at Elite Union Academy specifically for soccer,” he said. “The thing about this particular academy is that they play against other professional academies such as Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester City, which are all of the premier teams there.”
Hoffman finished his final season with the Bucs scoring 10 goals with seven assists. But with the kind of ability that he had, he practically played all over the field, spending the first three weeks of his final season at right back or defender.
A one time a shortstop, Hoffman quit baseball at the age of 12 to concentrate on soccer.
“What’s always amazed me about him is his speed on the field,” Dotson said. “But also once he became a junior and senior he became more of a leader, especially toward younger players.”
On a student visa, Hoffman understands he is on a timetable to take care of things across the pond.
“In talking to the head coach here at Elite, he wants to see me to progress from 20 years old. He thinks it will be a good time to establish my game and to really focus on the things that I need to do,” Hoffman said. “That is a perfect time zone for me, because I will be in my prime, so I can fully focus on that. That will also be a perfect time for me to sign a professional contract with someone. I really want to go after a professional contract about that time at that age.”
At 18 years old, Hoffman will be on the fast track to make some adjustments to his life — transformations that could allow him to make the right decisions while in the process of getting better in the sport.
“For sure, so I cannot sleep in until 11 a.m. anymore, so that is going to stink,” Hoffman said. “Just adjusting from a normal lifestyle, I will have to change many things from waking up in the mornings to training three times a day. The only thing that I need to do is think about the future. The present will be about playing in the academy, but the future is about playing in front of millions of people. At that point I know that I have to change everything from how I work out to how I sleep to training, to just everything.”
There were a few reasons why Hoffman decided on Elite Union Academy.
“Everyone plays for an academy here, and for every big team there they have these academies, which is kind of like a second team, and they try to progress you to the top team,” he said. “The academy that I am going to, we are not owned by a big professional club so that opens us up to every professional club that wants to see us. We are an individual academy that every club wants to see its players in Europe.”
Training three times a day plus going to school won’t leave to much time for anything else.
“Honestly, what I thought I lacked more than anything was just dedication, because here I just lacked putting everything into it because of everything else that surrounded around it,” Hoffman said. “But at this academy, whether working out or eating right, there are no distractions. It will be a different atmosphere, and I think that is going to help me a lot just by putting my mind just where it needs to be. Besides that, just learning how they play the game there, thinking about it, Americans lack what European players have, and that is their technical ability and just how they play. Once I get what they are teaching me for those three years I am there, I think it will give me the time to learn what I need to.”
Hoffman understands what has been placed in front of him by his family, coaches and friends.
“It is a lot on my shoulders, but I am also leaving everything that I’ve created here at home,” he said. “Four months ago I was going to play college ball, but now I will be playing in front of professional clubs and trying to make it. This is everything that I’ve wanted, so there is nothing that will be holding me back now.”
An Arsenal fan himself, Hoffman wouldn’t mind getting a contract to wear that jersey.
“So by the time I am ready, clubs will look at me and I will tell my agent when I am ready, and those clubs will seek me and there could be four or five clubs who are not even in England — they could be from Ireland, Spain or from wherever, but at that time I have to start somewhere,” Hoffman said. “I have to start with a team that I don’t want to play for, but I will be a professional and from there I still have to keep improving myself.
“If at the age of 20 I do want to go play for Arsenal — yes, dream come true, but I know I have to earn it. Nothing is going to be given to me.”
Soccer is a sport that has grown by leaps and bounds not only abroad but in the United States.
“For now I will go in and start playing against the top teams in the country of Europe,” Hoffman said. “So for right now I will go in and learn from the guys who are there who are seeking a contract. So I need to pick up on their drive and bring that to my game. They basically want to see more from my game and build on that and make me a professional footballer.”