School first, soccer second

Alfredo Kaegi, a left wing and forward, practices on the UTD soccer field on March 21 as he works on rehab following knee surgery. Kaegi came to UTD to earn his degree after playing soccer for semi-pro teams in France for eight months. He played his first season at UTD this past fall, which brought him recognition on the playing field as he won multiple awards. He intends to go pro after getting his degree, which will provide him with a back-up plan for his athletic career. Photo by Ruth Varghese | Mercury Staff.

A sophomore soccer player, who’s received offers to go pro in France, is pursuing his education at UTD before attempting to play professionally.

Alfredo Kaegi, a left wing and forward, finished his first season on UTD’s soccer team last semester.

He won Freshman Offensive MVP, First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and was the leading goal scorer at the conference last season. While he said he worked hard for his recognition, he could not have succeeded without the team.

“Whenever we first went to Chicago for those first three games, I wasn’t scoring, I wasn’t doing my job. And then whenever we came back, I started scoring. I had a better season than I thought I would,” he said.

Kaegi graduated from Frisco Heritage High School where he played on a dual roster with FC Dallas so he could participate in his high school games while receiving additional training from FC Dallas. After high school, he spent the next eight months in France where he played semi-pro for the reserve team for HSC Montpellier.

The time Kaegi spent playing soccer in France was unlike what he had experienced before. Not only did he have to deal with a higher level of play, he was also one of the youngest members on the team.

“It was just a faster speed of play, a lot more aggressive. It’s a completely different level when it comes to the game,” he said. “It really changed me as a player.”

Every day in France was a repeat of the day before. Because Kaegi was not going to school, there was nothing to break up the regularity of his weeks.

“It was literally just soccer. That was pretty much what my days and my weeks consisted of, was just soccer, soccer, soccer,” he said. “It was pretty much like a job. Except I didn’t get paid.”

After playing with HSC Montpellier, Kaegi moved to a satellite team called Castelnau Le Cres. He then received an offer to play for Le Havre AC, fulfilling one of his goals.

“Going to France and having that experience and getting offers, that’s letting me know that I can go pro,” he said.

Despite having the potential to play professionally in France, Kaegi said he wanted to get his degree because soccer is not a guaranteed career. He came to UTD through connections he had on the team and with the coach. His time in France didn’t make it easier for him on the UTD soccer team but it gave him an advantage, Kaegi said.

Although Kaegi’s ultimate goal is to become a professional soccer player, he’d still pursue an athletically inclined career if that doesn’t go as planned.

“It’s a big part of who I am. It’s pretty much all I do. If it’s not school or work, it’s soccer. It’s a passion of mine,” Kaegi said. “… I love the sport so much that if I end up not being a professional soccer player, then I’d like to stay close to the sport as much as possible.”

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