Ian Graham signs for the Philadelphia Union!
Penn Legacy star has already impressed at the highest level
I recently sat down with Ian Graham and chatted about his new life as a Philadelphia Union Academy player. Ian, who is now 15, followed his brother into our Futures Program under Rossi at A. Herr Park at 3 years of age, and played all the way through into our travel program (a total of 12 years with our club!) until a few months ago when he started training with Gary Lewis and the Union u14 squad. Ian also played ODP and varsity as a freshman for Hempfield High School over the past 2 years.
Coach Lewis and his staff were immediately impressed with what they saw from Ian; both in his play, and how he adapted to new surroundings and new teammates. They loved his overall attitude to the game and how determined he was to seize the opportunity before him. Within a week they had made the decision to bring him into their famed Academy. Coach Lewis had these very nice words to say about Ian and our club....."Ian has integrated very well into the Philadelphia Union 2001 group. He is a talented soccer player with a self assuredness that has allowed him to perform at a consistent level. Praise has to go to the outstanding program at Penn Legacy in assisting with Ian's development".
Below are excerpts from my chat with Ian and some of his answers will give you a sense of how hard-working he is and also what type of young man he has already become. Enjoy!
Seamus: How has everything been so far with your new environment?
Ian: Everything so far in Philadelphia has been an interesting process. The players at the beginning showed me around. At first things were awkward, I'd show up, play and leave. After getting to know each player, it is like everyone is related. The connection everyone has is amazing. The practices I wouldn't say they were harder, but more intense. It was difficult to get used to the intensity on the field all the time, but after a couple practices I adjusted and played the way I was taught.
S: What is the most impressive thing about the Union Academy?
I: The most impressive thing about the Union Academy would have to be their ability to produce players. The way the coaches coach at Union Academy allows each player to strive for success in the career.
S: How has playing for Penn Legacy prepared you for the jump to one of the most prominent Youth Academies in the country?
I: Penn Legacy taught and prepared me in many ways for growth. Penn Legacy teaches each player the fundamentals at a young age and the skills to start growing off of. Legacy has taught me the importance of teamwork and how to adjust to new players. This has allowed me to get to know the players at Union very well and create friends. Legacy has also taught me determination. Determination is one of the most important qualities for a player to have. Legacy has made me determined to succeed. One day you have a bad practice then the next practice you must be determined to do better. So when I started training with the Union I was determined to try my best so even if I didn't make it I would have come back knowing I had given my all.
S: Do you have any advice for our younger Penn Legacy players on how to improve their overall game so that maybe they can follow in your footsteps?
I: If you commit yourself to every training session and every game then you will always be better than the player not trying. A player who is trying his/her hardest to succeed is a player who will improve. Each player that wants to continue and succeed in his/her career is going to be the player who works the hardest, is determined to be his/her best and who wants to improve him/herself for the better.
Everyone at Penn Legacy wishes Ian all the best on his new path. He and his family have been tremendous ambassadors for our club and, in a way, he still represents us down with the Union. We will follow his continued progress very closely.
Director of Coaching and Player Development
Penn Legacy Football Club