When you are 16 years old and hold lofty aspirations to one day become a professional soccer player, the workload and dedication would overwhelm most, but not Jeff Dewsnup.
Growing up in Herriman, Utah, Dewsnup always stood out at his local club, La Roca FC, as a player that carried enormous potential, holding the goal of playing professionally from a young age. When the home base for the RSL Academy migrated from Arizona to Herriman, Dewsnup leapt at the opportunity to attend school and take the next step in his soccer journey.
“Growing up in Herriman and travelling about an hour North almost every day to join my teammates at practice and games with La Roca was special,” Dewsnup reflected. “But when the Zions Bank Training Center was built in my backyard, it was a no-brainer. It was such a big opportunity for where I was in my youth career to make the move towards becoming a professional. RSL gives chances to its young players so I jumped at the chance to join the club.”
Joining the RSL Academy at 14, Dewsnup made an immediate impact and garnered the attention of the Academy coaches through his performance on the field and his attitude off of it. Falling under the U-15 age group umbrella at the Academy, Dewsnup’s performances in training and games warranted a swift move to play regularly with the U-17 group where play was a bit quicker and the chance to prove himself further became abundant.
“Jeff is really mature for his age and it was evident from his first day the Academy that soccer is what he wanted to do,” RSL Director of Goalkeeping Mirza Harambasic said. “He’s the kind of person who takes advantage of every single day. Nothing is extra work for him, it’s just a chance to get better. Also, the fact that he entered our Academy and was immediately ready to step through the age groups and into the professional environment on a regular basis speaks to his willingness to buy into the individual training plans that we see all players within the organization take part in.”
Signed as Real Salt Lake’s youngest-ever player, Dewsnup became the 24th Homegrown player to sign for the club from the RSL Academy. Having the opportunity to train with his childhood idols before he even had a driver’s license only fueled his love for the game and the club.
“Having the chance to train with Nick Rimando was something that was a bit surreal, an amazing opportunity really. Being from Utah and with RSL being my home club, I always looked up to him. Then to have a chance to hit volleys to him and have him help me progress through my own development really made the RSL Academy journey tangible for me,” Dewsnup reflected. “Many of the goalkeepers and Homegrown players that have made it to MLS have helped me a lot to grow and acclimate to a higher level of play.”
Since the RSL Academy’s inception, the goal was to provide RSL and Real Monarchs with a foundation to develop top-level players to either feature for a college team or pull the club crest on at Rio Tinto Stadium or Zions Bank Stadium. The message has always been clear for young players aspiring to one day become a professional and Dewsnup’s experience and name is now added to the growing list of examples that the club’s on-field and off-field development methods work.
“Everything starts at the Academy at RSL. Players are evaluated and if they have what it takes and the staff sees the potential, then they get their shot. All of us at the Academy have the ability to train with the Monarchs to learn and grow, that’s how I gained valuable experience. If you do well, then the club will take a chance on a young player. I hope I can be another example to players at the Academy that if you commit to something, you can make it.”