Photo Credit: Rich Clarkson and Associates
Former University of Denver midfielder Collin Audley is hoping to land a professional contract in the coming weeks - be it Major League Soccer, another North American league, or overseas - Audley armed with the self-belief that he can play at the next level is ready to begin his professional career.
Before speaking with the midfielder, respected Colorado soccer journalist George Tanner, operator of the soccer news website, ColoradoSoccerNow.com, offered up his assessment of the player.
The Pioneers, under coach Bobby Muuss, are an extremely aggressive bunch, and Audley has been their field leader. He is fierce on a 50-50 ball. With the ball at his feet, he can distribute, attack or simply possess.Below follows Collin Audley's Q & A:
He is poised when the Pioneers are down a goal and in the hunt for the equalizer. He is a solid defender when the opposition is pressing. He was perhaps Denver's most versatile player in 2009.
His fitness is excellent, and he has a well-rounded skill set. He will need to add some muscle to his frame to compete at the professional level.
Q. You were named captain in '09, now that you have been able to reflect on the honor, what are your thoughts?
I actually served as a co-captain my junior year so it was a pretty easy transition for me at first because I got to learn from the captains before me. The captains that served at DU before me were great leaders and had a lot of quality. They all had very strong personalities that were shown almost every day. This allowed me to just lead by example through my play and I just kind of got to be myself.
This year while being captain I was asked to take on more responsibility and felt I had to do more than I'm used to both on and off the field. It was definitely a challenge and I think a lot of people don't realize how much effort goes into being a captain. Obviously it is a huge honor to be named a captain of any team and it was a special time in my life and playing career at the University of Denver.
Of course I look back on the season wishing it had gone differently but I am very proud of my time at DU and felt that I was an influential part of the program.
Q. And the season, are you happy with the team and your individual performance?
Our season this year was very interesting and not at all what I expected. I have watched 10 or 15 games in the last month from the last two seasons and it has become clear to me that this last year the team underperformed. Soccer is pretty simple because all you have to do is score more than the other team to win.
On too many occasions we weren't doing this. We weren't scoring enough and we were getting scored on too much. As a team there wasn't a lot of problems off the field but there was definitely an issue with the mentality of the team as a whole. Part of this I think was due to a lack of experience and some of it was just what happens to teams sometimes when they are having a tough season. I think Liverpool is a good example of this.
I felt that we tried to play attractive soccer and we were very capable of beating teams but when it came down to it we just didn't have enough this season. We had a very talented team and a team with some great people so it was fun to be
around every day.
I am happy with the way the team came together and made a push at the end of the season but unfortunately there were strong teams in our conference this year and both New Mexico and Sacramento State deserved to make the tournament.
Individually I was very frustrated for most of the season because I was dealing with an injury that I am just now getting back to full health and fitness from. I never felt like I was contributing as much as I could on the field and I think that this hurt the team because I was a big part of what we were trying to do.
I couldn't perform as well and as consistently as I know I am capable of and this was incredibly frustrating for me. I think everyone on our team had big ideas about what the team could accomplish and what each individual could accomplish. I ended up with a decent amount of points and most of them came in crucial games for us so that is always a great feeling but I have high expectations for myself and for my teammates so I think it was disappointing to see us not meet our goals and expectations.
Even though I didn't play as well as I had liked I was still named to the MPSF All-Federation 1st Team for the second year in a row which is a huge honor because there are some very talented players on that list and I wish them all the best as well.
Q. And the experience of having your program host the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, were you excited to have an opportunity to play the tournament at your home field?
I thought it was a great opportunity for us to host the tournament because the University of Denver has incredible athletic programs and equally impressive facilities. The program recently finished building the new soccer stadium which was a huge project and something that people had been talking about for a long time.
The University of Denver has arguably the best facilities and necessities to run a great tournament but unfortunately mother nature did not get the memo. Right when the tournament began a huge snow storm moved in over the area for the weekend and dropped a couple feet of snow.
Of course the fields were plowed and for the circumstances, they were in greeat shape but it did put a damper on things and I think the other teams were definitely a little rattled about it. Hopefully the school will get another opportunity and the weather will hold up.
Q. Are you going to explore professional options?
I don't think there is anything I love to do more than play soccer and most people who know me will tell you this. I think that in life you have to do what you love for as long as you can so I am definitely trying to persue a professional career.
Q. Is Denver heading toward being considered one of the nation's elite soccer programs?
Denver has gotten a lot of attention in the last couple years for the strides it has been makinging all of its athletic programs. As for soccer, the women's team have been a very good team for a long time and are constantly winning conference championships and knocking off big teams and that is a testament to the athletic department, the coaching staff, the players, and the tradition they have been forming at DU.
As for the men's soccer program I think that everyone has been working incredibly hard to better the program. There was always some sort of opportunity for us to help the community and we did our best to open up to the community. There was a huge effort from everyone to find a way to get the stadium built and the program and its players are very thankful for all the help.
I think in almost every area the program is getting better and better and is headed towards being one of the best programs in the nation, but as we saw this season the team needs to continue to work harder and get better if it ever wants to compete with and be considered among the best on a regular basis.
Q. What has coach Bobby Muuss meant to your development as a player and as a person?
Coach Muuss is constantly challenging his team to work harder and become better both on and off the field so of course it was no different for me. As a person Coach Muuss has helped me become a much more mature person. Since he has arrived at the University I have developed in a lot of ways.
He expects a lot out of his team not only as players but as people as well. I have definitely become a better representative of the University and have enjoyed the journey. I am thankful for everything he has done for me and wish him the best of luck in the future.