International Soccer Academy’s Creighton Braun Turns Pro at FC DAC
Southern California youth soccer player follows his dream of being a professional soccer player in Europe — from playing in Orange County to being signed by a club that could potentially play in the UEFA Champions League next year ….
The Back Story:
Creighton Braun is a Southern California youth soccer player who dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. Like so many other talented players, Braun tried to get a trial at professional soccer clubs in Europe but to no avail. Recruited to play D1 soccer by Brian Quinn at University of San Diego in California, then the pandemic strikes and NCAA cancels the fall soccer conferences.
Just like thousands of collegiate players in America, Braun is left without a place to play. Braun discovers International Soccer Academy, joins the program in Mallorca, Spain and the coaches see his talent and arrange for Braun to trial at FC DAC 1904 and Schalke 04. Braun received an offer from DAC and signed his first professional soccer contact in December, joining his new club in Europe immediately after the New Year.
We wanted to check in with Braun and see how this former West Coast FC youth soccer player was doing … what is it like when your dreams start coming true?
Interview With Creighton Braun on What it is Like To Become A Pro Soccer Player
Diane Scavuzzo: What is it like to be a professional soccer player at FC DAC? What was it like going on trial there? Were you nervous?
Creighton Braun: The first time I came to this club, it was a huge experience for me. Of course I came in very nervous but I was anxious to get started. It was my first professional trial ever. It was a dream to have International Soccer Academy arrange trials for me. I flew from Mallorca, Spain into Slovakia to go on trial with FC DAC and then went to Schalke.
It was an amazing help to have my coach at International Soccer Academy, who is also my manager, Holger Gehrke, with me.
Holger is a former pro goalkeeper with Schalke 04 and has had hundreds of Caps. He is also Schalke’s former goalkeeper coach, and he has coached the Hungarian National Team. He told me that I need to be myself and to be ready for a challenge. Eddie Loewen, co-founder of International Soccer Academy also shared his advice, which I really appreciated. Eddie also played pro soccer in the 3 Bundesliga.
The first time I stepped on the pitch, the ball had been moving faster than what I have ever experienced.
It was a completely different style of play than what I was taught back in the USA. Looking back on this experience, I realized Holger’s belief in me made all the difference in the world.
Now that I am here, I’m not so nervous when I step onto the field and have the ball at my feet. I am getting used to the play style. I am improving day by day. But, I am still being tested today, just how I was on trial — because now I’m pushing for the starting 11, not just a spot on the team.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are some of the challenges off the field?
Creighton Braun: The day to day environment is completely different than what I have back home.
Back home, I would have a fridge full of food and loved ones all around me to support me face to face everyday. I didn’t have to do some of the basic necessities at home. Here in Dunajska Streda, Slovakia, I have to do much much more. Everyday I cook, which isn’t so hard since I love to cook, but it can get tedious especially after a long day of intense training.
I have no face to face contact with my loved ones since they are back home. I try to FaceTime or call loved ones everyday so I can still experience this face to face relationship but virtually.
Also, at this time of the year there is snow and rain every other day, whereas in sunny Southern California, I never had rain or snow, only blue sky all year round.
Diane Scavuzzo: What did you bring with you from home? How are you making your new place at FC DAC more like home?
Creighton Braun: I couldn’t fit many things inside my suitcases since it was full of clothes, but I managed to bring a few essentials to touch up my apartment and make it feel more like home.
I brought a few pictures of me and my brother and a painting from my girlfriend. These were the most important items that I brought.
My apartment isn’t ginormous but it is awesome and I love it.
I have the kitchen just across the hall as well as a washer and dryer, and I have my own bathroom inside my room.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the biggest challenge being a newly signed pro at FC DAC?
Creighton Braun: The biggest challenge is having confidence.
Confidence plays a big part in how you play and how you take control of the game.
I am still working on improving my confidence and believing in myself. All the players play at a very high pace and have a great understanding of each other and what is around them.
The players all welcomed me and were very nice but are not over-welcoming.
We are here together to do one thing, win games.
So off the pitch, it is very friendly but on the field, we compete to the highest level. I feel that I belong here and I have earned a spot on the team but there is still a lot more work to be done. There are moments when I can’t really believe I’m here, and I can’t wait to learn from the guys who have more experience. This has been my dream for so many years.
Diane Scavuzzo: As an American, how are you fitting in?
Creighton Braun: That is an interesting question. There are Croatians, Hungarians, Slovakians, Germans, Venezuelans, Africans, Panamanians, and there is me from Southern California. Everyone speaks English but it is hard to interact in group conversations when they speak their native language — and their English is not perfect. The coaches actually ask me for help when they need clarification on an English word.
✍️ 19 year-old U.S. defensive midfielder Creighton Braun has signed a contract with the #DAC until the summer of 2022, which includes an option of an additional year.— DAC 1904 (@DAC_1904) January 21, 2021
🟡🔵 #hajráDAC pic.twitter.com/WivQXe5DnX
Diane Scavuzzo: Is it everything you expected it to be?
Creighton Braun: Being a professional soccer player in Europe sounds amazing as a kid and to people who dream of this — and it is what I have wanted since I could speak.
Being here at FC DAC is everything I expected it to be soccer wise … the elite level of players on the team and the high level of soccer. I am learning every minute and it is amazing, but I didn’t expect to miss my mom’s fresh cooked meals everyday so much, nothing can beat that.
Being a professional soccer player in Europe — living, hearing, and seeing it first hand — is everything I expected it to be and more.
It is an amazing experience and an opportunity of a lifetime.