Welch Wields Passion for the Pitch as Positive Leader for Valley
Liam Welch’s journey within the sport of soccer did take a lengthy pause and sabbatical, but the passion for the pitch always lied deep within him, and he is very thankful he ended the dormant period to return to the sport as a proud leader and defender for the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team.
The Warriors’ senior captain and right back defender played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up before dropping soccer for the latter two endeavors. Yet in middle school, Liam took part in club soccer, which re-triggered his love affair with the game. That led to him trying out for the Valley Regional squad, where he now still resides as a senior steward looking to pilot the Warriors back to the postseason.
“I first did club soccer for fun, and I loved it. I love just running around with teammates. It has brought out an experience that was something new I never felt before,” says Liam. “The support of my coaches and friends has helped me in soccer, especially my younger brother Joe. He is really competitive, and to have him around and on the team for the journey makes it easier because I can talk to him about things. My coaches have been really supportive, along with my entire family.”
In the backfield, Liam’s leadership skills shine through as he loves directing traffic to fellow teammates on field assignments for any set play. The anxiety of being a focal point of the defense can weigh heavy, but it is quite rewarding when that pressure can be lifted off the entire defensive unit.
“As a captain, I am always telling people where to be and who to be looking for,” Liam says. “I am in charge of telling the midfielders and center backs who to guard. It is a lot of fun talking back there. It is also tough being a leader back there. You have to be talking to everyone. It is also tough playing a key position, because if a striker gets by you, it puts automatic stress onto the goalkeeper, so you want to make their life easier.”
Liam, who also participates in spring track for Valley, really loves staying limber year-round, and has gained some cerebral advantages through his other sports. This has left him ready and willing to take on any hurdle that inevitably brings about greater growth on an individual and collective front.
“I feel I have never been in better shape. Basketball has helped me stay in shape, and then baseball and track have helped me with my mental game,” says Liam. “I have learned everyday is a challenge to improve and challenge yourself. I love to challenge myself, and sports have helped me stay focused in school with that same attitude. I have also learned new ways to challenge myself daily.”
Regardless of how the first month of the season has panned out for Liam and his mates, he is boastful about being able to lead them into battle on a daily basis. The adversity only creates more opportunities for him to display how to persist through the negatives.
“I am extremely honored to be a captain for this team. I feel I really connect with the guys on the team, and I am close with my brother and his friends, which helps me a lot,” Liam says. “I am proud to be a captain; this is a really good group of kids I am proud to represent. It can be challenging to keep the guys together and positive during a losing streak, but you have to help them keep their heads up.”
Liam longs to keep the legs moving onto a collegiate campus in a year’s time from now. Still, on the forefront, he knows the task at hand for the Warriors. He details they are becoming more introspective as they look to jump start a second-half season surge to states.
“I hope to continue with sports heading to college, but right now, we hope to make it to Shorelines and states this year. because we have a lot of potential on this team,” says Liam. “We had a tough first couple of games, and we are looking to turn it around. I actually brought in a sports psychologist as part of my senior capstone project this year. We are looking to be more up in practice and discuss things surrounding the team. We hope to get things back up and running and make the postseason.”
Valley boys’ soccer squad Head Coach Mick Fearon indicates that Liam has made his mark on the roster during such a short span of time in earning a starting nod.
“Liam started playing soccer at the high school level last year,” says Fearon. “He worked really hard and was able to get a lot of minutes, as we had graduated several defensive players last season.”
Lastly, Liam reflects that his long and winding journey in athletics has borne out tremendous philosophy and theory on life, and how to make sure that no matter what occupation or path one takes, they must exhibit passion and positivity through all ebbs and flows.
“The big two things sports have taught me is that you have to stay positive and have fun,” Liam says. “Sports are never worth it if they are not fun to you, because then you will not play well. I also have learned a lot about perseverance. Sometimes in sports and life, it gets rough, but you have to push through in order to get to a better spot.”