By Chris Shaddock
This article was originally published in Issue 9, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (February 18, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.
Not a lot of people can say they are doing what they love, but Class of 2011 alum Derek Long can proudly say he is. Long is currently playing professional soccer for the Harrisburg Heat of the Major Arena Soccer League. He has been playing on their practice team since October and signed a professional contract to be a part of the official team in January.
Long has been playing soccer since he was five and has always loved the sport.
“There were those writing prompts in elementary school about what we wanted to do when we were grown up. I would always write something like ‘professional soccer player,’” said Long.
For those who do not know, Long attended DeSales and played forward for the men’s soccer team. His time playing soccer at DeSales was pretty impressive. He was a starter on the team from 2008 to 2011, scored 46 goals in those four years and was also a part of the team that won DeSales’ first NCAA Freedom Championship in men’s soccer during his senior year. According to Long, he feels fortunate to have been on a team with a great group of guys and always looks forward to playing in the alumni soccer game in the spring.
After Long graduated from DeSales, he started teaching at his former high school, Conrad Weiser in Robesonia, Pa. Besides teaching, he also coached their high school soccer and basketball teams. Long continued to play soccer by joining a high-level amateur league called the National Captial Soccer League, playing whenever he could.
After a while, a friend of Long’s who played for the Harrisburg Heat convinced him to try out in September. Long gave it a shot, and by October, he made it on their practice team, eventually going on to be part of the official team where his current position is target forward. Interestingly enough, Long is currently on the Harrisburg Heat with some of his childhood teammates. Long is doing well, scoring three goals in the seven games he has played as of Feb. 13.
Long hopes that through achieving his goal of playing soccer professionally, it will inspire other DeSales students to also achieve their goals.
“You would always think professional athletes have to come from Division I schools, but that is not really the case,” said Long. “You just need a good work ethic and then you can really do anything with your abilities.”
Hopefully Long enjoys his time playing professionally and continues to show just how far a DeSales student can go in life.