Former Saint Mary’s goalkeeper Andre Rawls recently concluded his first professional season with the Wilmington Hammerheads, the United Soccer League affiliate of New York City FC. The San Ramon native started 22 of the team’s 28 matches during the season. He finished second in the USL in saves and fourth in saves percentage and saves per game.
The 2014 West Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year is in town during a brief break before he heads to New York to train with NYCFC for the remainder of the Major League Soccer season. Here is a brief Q&A from when we caught up with him after this morning’s SMC practice.
Q: Describe your first season as a professional.
A: “The whole year has been like roller coaster. It has been a lot of fun. I’m just starting to get into the business of professional sports, seeing how the day-to-day operations work. My stay in Wilmington was awesome. It wasn’t the season we wanted, by any means. But, for me, I thought my rookie season was a good one. I set the bar for my personal goals high and I thought I hit it, for the most part.”
Q: Did you think you had a good first step toward furthering your professional career on a higher level?
A: “Yes, I think I definitely did. It was a great first season. Just going from the college level to the professional level was a huge jump. I am thankful for the USL for making that transition a little easier for me. Definitely, there is a talent jump. I got my feet wet and that was good for me.”
Q: You played in front of former Santa Clara goalkeeper Larry Jackson. Both being WCC guys, did you form a bond or did the rivalry keep you guys apart?
A: “Believe it or not, Larry is a great (despite being a Bronco). He was a lot of fun to hang out with, be around and compete with. He is, obviously, a great keeper. His stats show that. I remember playing against him when I was at Saint Mary’s. We had plenty of stories to share.”
Q: What is next for you?
A: “Next week I am headed up to New York to finish the season training with NYCFC and fighting for a roster spot next year. Since I was drafted by NYCFC, the club has my contract rights for another year – through Dec., 2016. It is my plan to try to make the first team and continue to improve my position in the club.”