How do most players maintain a high level of fitness during the off-season? For some Marist men’s soccer players, the answer is playing for a pre-professional club soccer.
Receiving ample playing time during the off-season can be a concern for some college athletes. They’re not in high school anymore, where most players participate year-round in multiple sports. Pre-pro teams can be one way for college soccer players to keep up their organized play and fitness during the offseason in a way that goes beyond just going to the gym.
Last summer, a few Marist men’s soccer players suited up for the Kingston Stockade and Hudson Valley Hammers pre-pro teams. For many athletes, becoming a pre-pro player is the goal, but in the case of these Marist players, it’s also part of their college journey.
Junior midfielder Jared Juleau, who played for Kingston Stockade in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) over the past two summers, is an offensive star and a team captain who has 10 goals and 8 assists for the Red Foxes in his career.
Per U.S. Soccer, the NPSL is in the 4th division of its leagues. Juleau first joined the Stockade in the summer of 2022 and conveyed his enjoyment playing for the team. The Stockade completed an outstanding regular season in 2023, finishing with a 7-1-2 record and earning an automatic bid to the North Atlantic Conference Final. Ultimately, they lost the championship match to Hartford in extra time.
Despite the heartbreaking championship loss, Juleau believes that playing for the Stockade was worth it since the experience helped him prepare for the following season.
“Summer is a good spot to keep your fitness up and it kept my confidence up too, playing with those guys,” said Juleau. “We already had that chemistry, so it was easier for us to play against other teams. And that’s definitely a big factor. We went to the final and had a good end of the season.”
When comparing his experience to college soccer, Juleau found that each playing experience had a lot in common.
“It’s pretty similar because we have a lot of players playing D1 pushing for the Hartford City team, the team we lost to. They are a pretty good team. You got kids from Manhattan, Holy Cross,” said Juleau. “It was pretty similar. It was a good competition.”
Also playing for the Stockade this past summer was Junior forward Richard Morel. As Marist’s starting striker, he plays a pivotal role for the Red Foxes as a finisher who has five goals this season. Morel felt that while some aspects of his time with Stockade were similar to Marist, others were more professional in nature.
“Honestly, I would say it’s a very competitive atmosphere; the one thing that’s different is it’s kind of like more of a professional lifestyle where you have to kind of live on your own and cook meals on your own and do all that stuff on your own,” said Morel. “But, I would say for the most part, training sessions are kind of similar, 100%.”
With Morel suffering a season-ending injury last October during the Marist season, he joined the Stockade while taking steps to recovery for the upcoming season. The stockade played a major role in helping him get to full fitness for the 2023 Marist men’s soccer season.
“They kind of got me back into shape. I came up injured and they took me in with open arms and all thanks to them. They kind of got me ready,” said Morel. “They had me throughout the whole summer, and they were making sure I was keeping up with my fitness, getting everything back and was able to come back. So, it was a lot easier for me to practice with them again.”
Yet another Red Fox, redshirt senior defender Demarre Montoute, was involved with pre-professional soccer over the summer. Mountoute, who hails from Toronto, stayed in the US to play for the Hammers in USL League Two (USL2).
Unlike Morel and Juleau, Montoute is a center-back who dictates the defensive line, stops goal-scoring chances and squanders his opponents’ opportunities. His defensive impact may not always appear in the box score, but he plays passionately. Montoute is also a Marist captain; a quick look at a men’s soccer box score frequently shows him playing a full 90 minutes for the team.
Mountoute also pointed out the competitive similarities between Marist and the Hammers
“There’s a bunch of college players and some players from the highest schools, top-level schools like Duke, Michigan and (other) big schools,” Mountoute said.
Regarding playing with the Hammers, he mentioned it helped him with his stamina, and said it helped him with “being sharp on the ball, and obviously getting more reps.”
Overall, these Red Foxes agreed that it was a net positive to spend time warming up for their Marist fall season in a pre-pro summer league. Whether it’s to keep them in shape, gain more game minutes or enhance their chemistry, summer pre-pro play is a useful tool to keep players prepared for the fall season.
Edited by Sam Murphy and Luke Sassa
Graphic by Cara Lacey; Photos via Marist Athletics