Soccer standout prepares for freshman year at Loyola
In December, at the end of his senior season at La Salle Academy, Drew was invited to practice with the team that plays its home games at Gillette Stadium. The nod to Drew came after Deven Apajee, New England’s Revolution’s academy director and U-18 assistant coach, spent a couple of seasons watching Drew, a teammate of Apajee’s son, Danny, at La Salle.
Initially invited just to workout with the team, Drew was shortly thereafter given a roster spot. Waddington noted that Revolution U-18 team’s level of play surpassed any of his other team experiences, “It’s the best team that I have been a part of [and] I’ve played with a lot of good players at a lot of different levels,” he said.
Finishing the regular season at 6-9-6, the U-18 Revolution recently returned from Dallas where they finished 1-1-1 in the Showcase Tournament.
In exchange for the opportunity to play with the team, Waddington signed a commitment to the New England Revolution, which he described as a “home-grown contract” giving the Revolution draft rights should he go pro.
Drew is quick to acknowledge his good fortune. “There’s a lot of luck [and] there’s a lot of great players who don’t get the opportunities because people don’t see them at the right time.”
Drew continued, “It’s the same thing with college. I got lucky that they saw me at a good time.”
In whatever combination of luck and skill that makes things possible, Drew is the only NCAA Division-I soccer recruit from La Salle Academy this year. He is headed to Loyola University in Maryland in the fall to play soccer and to begin his studies in international relations, a direct result, he said, of the exposure to cultures present in the soccer world.
Giving soccer his focus year round, Waddington said that, “It’s what I love to do; it’s not really work when I play.” He explained that his favorite part of the game is the changeable dynamic that requires him to adapt to a variety of game situations during each 90-minute contest.
As a center midfielder, he leads the transition from defense to offense and back again. He did that well on four La Salle teams that finished in the quarterfinals or better each year. The biggest heartbreaker came in his sophomore year in a 1-0 loss to Barrington in the state finals. It was La Salle’s only loss that year.
He captained his senior year squad to a 10-2-6 finish, losing in the quarterfinals. Twice honored by Division-I high school soccer coaches, Drew was chosen to the Second Team Division I, and as a senior he was named to the First Team Division I.
Waddington was recruited by several Division-I programs besides Loyola, including Bucknell, William & Mary and the Naval Academy. It was only after a longer second look at a January clinic and a thorough discussion with his parents that he decided to commit to Loyola.
The 8-6-1 Greyhounds proudly tout Waddington on their website as one of the 11 recruits meant to reload the MAAC Conference thirdplace finisher after losing 10 seniors to graduation. Drew said that the recruitment process was rewarding. He highlighted an e-mail that he received from the Bucknell coach commenting on his excellent play in a game that the coach attended, unbeknownst to Drew.
“Usually you e-mail them, and for them to e-mail me, I was pretty happy about that,” he said. “Especially because they’re pretty good.”
A native of Annapolis, Md., Waddington and his family moved to Jamestown after he completed second grade. He attended both Melrose and Lawn avenue schools before going on to La Salle. When he’s not playing soccer, Drew can be found teaching sailing at the Conanicut Yacht Club where he has been an instructor for three summers. A sailor himself, Drew has raced both Optis and 420s.
In reflecting on his 13 years in organized soccer, Drew noted that with the help of some terrific coaches, at each level, he has been able to make the most of his strengths: ball skills, control, physical size and strength.
Among the formative soccer experiences that he credits for his success is the four years he played club ball for the University of Rhode Island Rams Football Club under head coach John O’Connor. Drew expressed his appreciation for O’Connor’s guidance, both “with the whole college recruiting process as well as helping me improve as a player.”
Another experience that Drew valued was his two years in the Rhode Island Olympic Development Programs that was coached by Jamestowners Kyle and Steve Froberg, both of North Kingstown High School. Drew admitted that it was a bit odd to be coached in the offseason by coaches of a team that proved to be an annual contender and La Salle’s rival.
An honor roll regular and a member of the National Honor Society, Drew acknowledged with a smile that he may not have been as focused on academics as his parents would have liked. He described La Salle as a place where he earned a near 3.5 GPA, made some good fiends, and received a lot of good instruction from long-time La Salle soccer coach Mario Pereira.
At the end-of-the-year sports banquet, Pereira acknowledged Drew’s most valuable player role, awarding him one of the two prizes given to soccer players annually.
Asked if he wants to play professional soccer, Drew responded realistically, “It’s my dream, but it’s also millions of other kids’ dreams.”