“I’ve spent a lot of my life working toward that moment,” said Aidan Apodaca, senior biology major and former forward for the men’s soccer team at California Baptist University. “To see my name picked was all that work paying off.”
On Jan. 21, Philadelphia Union announced that they had selected Apodaca to join their team in the third round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft by Adidas Soccer.
Coe Michaelson, head coach of the men’s soccer team at CBU, said that his initial reaction to learning that Apodaca had been drafted was pure excitement.
“We knew he had a chance to be selected but of course you just never know,” Michaelson said. “I’m really happy for him and his family, but I’m also very proud of him.”
Michaelson went on to say Apodaca’s development over the past year had been truly extraordinary.
“As a sophomore, Aidan scored three goals. As a senior, he scored 29,” Michaelson said. “He has obviously worked very hard to improve. His fitness, runs off the ball, combination play and finishing have all improved dramatically over the past year or so. This recent development is part of the reason you saw the explosion of goals his senior year.”
Apodaca said he would not be in the place he is now without his coaches at CBU.
“Two years ago I became more mature and stopped listening to my own thoughts and started focusing more on what they were telling me to work on in my game,” Apodaca said. “They’ve been right all along and without them, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Daniel Westholm, senior business administration major and forward/midfielder for the men’s soccer team at CBU, said Apodaca is a hardworking player as well as a valuable teammate.
“Aidan was always a good presence in the locker room,” Westholm said. “He’s a great guy who was liked by everyone and who led the team by always giving 100 percent and bringing the fire every practice.”
Westholm also said Apodaca’s journey was inspiring to the other members of the CBU men’s soccer team.
“It has set a great example for the younger guys, who now know what they need to do and what level they need to play in order to get drafted and play pro,” Westholm said.
Michaelson said the reason Apodaca made it this far in his career is because of him taking control of his own destiny.
“We talked after his junior year and I told him he would be an All-Conference and All-Region selection again without improving his game at all but if he wanted to be the Player of the Year and an All-American, he had to improve in some specific areas. To his credit, he did that,” Michaelson said.
Michaelson said Apodaca always had potential professional qualities physically, but what makes him stand out is that he is a goal scorer, which is rare in soccer.
“He is explosive, fast and very strong and these are things that you can’t coach,” Michaelson said. “Obviously he’s become so much more than that though, there are lots of guys who are fast and strong, but they aren’t all scoring 29 goals.”
Michaelson said that some things the CBU soccer coaching staff teaches the players is to take responsibility for their outcomes in life.
“Don’t blame your setbacks on your circumstances, your teammates, your professors, your coaches or anyone else,” Michaelson said. “Take responsibility for them and use them as an opportunity to reflect and grow. By doing this, you take control of your own destiny and this is what (Aidan) has done.
Westholm said that he has memories that he will never forget with Apodaca both on and off the field.
“Coming to CBU as freshmen and rooming together the first year, that’s always going to be a special memory,” Westholm said.
Apodaca said that during the season as an MLS player he is going to focus on both his nutrition and recovery in order to be the best athlete he can be on the field.
“When playing at a professional level everyone is going to be just as talented, what separates athletes from each other is the discipline outside of the field,” Apodaca said.
Apodaca also said that the athlete who inspires him the most at the moment is Tom Brady, because of how hard he had to work to get to where he’s at today.
“As of recently, I’ve paid more attention to his path to being one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play football,” Apodaca said. “Coming from a sixth round draft pick and having to compete for a spot with all odds against him his whole life is inspiring. His dedication outside off the field is inspiring as well.”
Apodaca said that when it comes to playing for Philadelphia Union, what he’s most excited about is playing in front of friends and family.
“I’ve received enormous amounts of support my whole life and people have dedicated so much time for me that I want to show them that it’s all paid off and I’m grateful for every single bit of it,” Apodaca said.