After spending three years in Virginia prior to joining the Philadelphia Union Academy in 2015, midfielder Jack de Vries is planning a return to the commonwealth to play college soccer at the University of Virginia in the fall of 2020.
“It has always been my dream to play in the ACC and at UVA I can get a great education and play top soccer,” said de Vries, who was born in Akron, Ohio and lived in Virginia Beach before moving to Pennsylvania with his family. “My ultimate dream is to play professionally and I believe UVA’s training and competitive environment could help me get there.”
De Vries’ dad, Raimo de Vries, played in the ACC at Wake Forest and was a Colorado Rapids original in the inaugural season of MLS in 1996. Raimo’s work in international banking has led to several moves for his family, including a seven-year stint in Belgium where Jack spent three years in the world-renown Anderlecht youth academy.
Virginia’s storied history, the coaching staff and the competitiveness of the conference were all big draws for de Vries, who has four goals this season in 12 league games for the Union U17s playing primarily as a left winger.
“They’re consistently a great team,” he said.
He won’t be the first YSC Academy grad to join a program that has won seven national championships (third all-time behind Indiana and Saint Louis). Former Cavalier Raheem Taylor-Parkes and junior forward Jerren Nixon Jr. were both part of the 2016 graduating class at YSC. Philadelphia native Darius Madison, who was part of the Union’s youth academy in high school, was on the most recent team to win a national title in 2014.
A technical player who has been a handful for defenses in the Development Academy this season, de Vries has had a breakout season after struggling to find playing time and battling with injury last year. He’s been one of the clear leaders on a team that went 11-1-0 in league play through the first half of the season.
“I played a lot my first year but I feel like this is the first year I’ve been able to get on a consistent high,” de Vries said. “Also, our team I feel like we have become a family and are really self-less.”
His form at the recent Development Academy showcase in Florida drew interest from other top programs, but ultimately it was a recent visit to Virginia that convinced him to bring his recruiting process to a close.
“As soon as I went to the campus, I knew it was where I wanted to be,” de Vries said.
De Vries is the second player in the 2020 graduating class from YSC Academy to verbally commit to a college program after U19 defender Jason Aoyama, who committed to the Naval Academy last month.
He comes from an athletic family: his mother, Kerry de Vries, is a former All-American field hockey player at the University of Iowa who has coached at the college, high school and international level and his sister, Charlotte de Vries, is the all-time leading goal-scorer at Conestoga High School.