Shinya Kadono is a fiery 22-year-old professional soccer player for Loudoun United FC of the USL and has been playing soccer at a high level for most of his life. He comes from Irvine, California and attended Woodbridge High School before going to Cal for his college career. He won the award for 2013 USDA Southwest Region Best XI, was a two-time winner of the Cal Men’s Soccer Offensive MVP, a three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week, and the 2018 Top Goal Scorer and player with the most points in all of Pac-12 Men’s Soccer. This year, he was drafted 72nd in the MLS SuperDraft by D.C. United. Shinya took the time out of his busy schedule during his season to discuss the recruiting process, how he got to the pros, and to give advice to current athletes with ambitions of making it to the next level.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What is the best piece of advice you can give to college athletes who are looking to become pro? Where should they start?
Shinya: I would say – for any college athlete, DI, DII, or DIII, my advice is to keep yourself professional on and off the field. Obviously give your whole effort in practice and competition with the team, but also off the field in school or even when you go talk to fans from your university. Keeping it professional is a big factor to being pro. Sure your skills and work ethic is valued a lot, but if you can’t keep professionalism you can’t really stay pro. I’ve seen people already checking out after a few months and leaving the team because of this, so if you can’t maintain professionalism, I don’t think you will be able to make it far even if you have the talent and skills.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: Are there any steps you took to maintain a positive attitude when things weren’t going your way in college?
Shinya: In college, yes. If you knew our Cal team last year, we didn’t do too well in the Pac-12, and we needed to keep positivity in the team. I talked to a lot of my teammates and tried to make them happy by hanging out with them, like going out to get ice cream and being close with them off the field. Also, I tried to always have some sort of motivation within myself. For example, every time I scored a goal in a game, I got to treat myself to ice cream after the game, and that worked out pretty well for me. So I would say definitely that motivation is key to positivity and getting yourself to work hard.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What’s the best advice a coach has given you?
Shinya: My freshman year, I came in and obviously most of your teammates are older than you. The coach would talk to me and ask me how I was doing often, and his biggest piece of advice was that on the soccer field, age doesn’t matter. If you’re performing well, you’ll play, and if you’re not, you won’t. That mindset helped me play well and to the best of my ability, not being nervous or scared because the other guys were older than me. That really helped me starting off as a freshman. During my senior year, the best advice I got from the same coach regarding my age and seniority was to spend time with my younger teammates off the field. He helped by giving his perspective on different players and what I could do to help create a better team and chemistry.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What advice would you give to athletes on tryouts/combines if they are trying to stand out and get drafted?
Shinya: When you go to these tryouts and combines, a lot of these players would try to do too much extra. If you play soccer and play midfield or defender, many players try to do things beyond their skillset. When you go to combines, you have to be true to yourself and your skillset, and show your strengths rather than trying to do too much. This would cause you to have problems later on. Let’s say you get drafted by a team because they liked you doing something you don’t usually do in games. Once you actually go to that team and start practicing or playing with your real skillset, if the coach and team don’t want that, a lot of times that player gets cut within two weeks. Maybe there was a team at the combine that would have liked the true way you play and would’ve drafted you if you had showed that yourself.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What’s the hardest adjustment from college to pro you’ve had to make that you think current student-athletes should know about?
Shinya: I would say off the field, you have to take care of your body and find activities that would be interesting to you. During college, you would go to training, go to class, hang out with friends, and go study. That would pretty much be your entire life. Once you’re a pro, you go to practice, come back, and that’s it. You have to find something that interests you, like a hobby you can do that you would like to do, or study something that you would like to do in the future to prepare. So I would say off the field lifestyle was the hardest adjustment I had to make, just because it was hard to think of what I wanted to do with all the free time I didn’t have in college.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What’s the best part about being a pro that would keep college athletes motivated about their dreams to be a professional athlete?
Shinya: The fans. Just the exposure on media and recognition is everything to me. Everybody wants that. I always wanted that. Being asked to take pictures or sign autographs is something I never experienced in college, but is something that I love doing now that I’m a pro. Also, traveling to new places and experiencing new things is fun for me. I never got to go to the East Coast while at Cal, but now I play in the D.C area and go to different cities on this side of the country, and I get to meet a lot of new people, which is one of the coolest things about being a pro. You also get to meet some of your childhood idols, like Wayne Rooney for me. Meeting him and playing with him was one of the best experiences of my life.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What advice would you give to high school athletes when it comes to using social media?
Shinya: I would advise them to use social media to create a sort of soccer resume that you can use during recruiting. A highlight video you can post on social media can create exposure for you and may help coaches at schools recognize you, but I would say you still need to keep it going through email and reaching out directly to as many coaches you can. Social media is a powerful way to spread your image, but be careful of what you post; posting about soccer is good and can help, but you can’t be posting stupid stuff. If you’re getting recruited by a school and they see something dumb you posted 50 weeks ago, they can take back their offer. I’ve even had that happen to people I know.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: How many official visits would you recommend athletes go on?
Shinya: There’s a big difference between unofficial and official visits. For unofficial visits, I would say go on as many as possible just to feel out the school and then compare different schools to each other, in terms of the team, facilities, and school. If you feel like it’s a school you really like, push for it and try to get an official visit with your recruiting class. In my experience, official visits are when you are pretty sure you want to go to that school and are just formally visiting and accepting their offer, so I would only go to one or two.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: Why did you ultimately choose Cal?
Shinya: I actually only went to one unofficial visit and that was Cal. I came there my sophomore year of high school for summer camp for a week. I kept playing and got recruited and went there for my unofficial visit, and I already knew two players on the team from club soccer since they were from my hometown. I was talking to other schools like UCLA, but I didn’t visit any of them and I didn’t really want to stay in SoCal, so it was a pretty quick decision for me.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: Since only a small percentage of athletes get to play Division 1, what kept you motivated throughout this process?
Shinya: I’ve wanted to play pro since I was a kid, and playing Division 1 was the fastest and best way to do this. I also wanted a high-level education, and going to college was necessary for me. Looking from those two perspectives, I was motivated to work really hard and get into Cal.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What is one thing about playing about a collegiate level you wish you had known in high school?
Shinya: Once you get into college, you meet a lot of different athletes. In high school, I didn’t really have any friends that were other athletes, like for swimming, tennis, or lacrosse. Meeting different athletes in college was a really cool experience and helped me get different perspectives, and I wish I had known this in high school so I would have met people in different sports back then.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What are two characteristics you think all athletes need to have to be successful in sports?
Shinya: Discipline and dedication.
Nikhil, LRT sports: You’ve already said that Wayne Rooney was your favorite player to play with, who would you most want to play with or against given the chance?
Shinya: Definitely Lionel Messi. He’s always been my favorite player.
Nikhil, LRT Sports: What’s your pregame song and routine?
Shinya: I tape my left wrist, because once in high school, I taped my left wrist and I scored a lot of goals in that game. If I’m traveling on a bus, I sit in the back left, also because I did this in high school and had a great game. For my song, I listen to a lot of rap songs and Viva la Vida by Coldplay. I have a lot of other routines I do, but it would take too long to talk about it here!
Posted on July 1, 2019 in Interviews
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The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
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