July 4th brought some unexpected fireworks for Luke Hauswirth.
While enjoying the holiday at his family’s cabin, Hauswirth, a Division I soccer prospect from Woodbury, received a phone call. It was University of Washington men’s soccer coach Jamie Clark on the line, inviting him to play for the Huskies — one of the top teams in the country.
“We’d been e-mailing back and forth a few days,” said Hauswirth, who leaves for Washington on Aug. 11. “But I didn’t expect an offer that night, though.”
This past year Hauswirth, a center back, captained the Minnesota Thunder Academy U17/U18 team, which played in the prestigious U.S. Soccer Development Academy league.
A heady defender who played striker until 13, Hauswirth can anchor the back line and also has the ability to move up into the offensive zone on the attack. Clark called Hauswirth, 18, “a great defender that will be able to play a variety of roles.”
“His soccer brain will allow him to play in the midfield, as a right back, and also as a central defender equally well,” said Clark, who is 42-11-9 in three seasons at Washington. “It’s rare we venture further east of Denver to find players, and only do so when we think we’ve found a great one like Luke.”
Last year, Washington finished 16-2-4, won its first Pac-12 championship ever and advanced to the round of eight in the NCAA tournament. Led by midfielder Christian Roldan, defender Darwin Jones and keeper Spencer Richey, the Huskies are expected to be an elite team again this year.
“I never thought I’d go to a team as good as Washington,” Hauswirth said. “I ended up at the best school possible, in my opinion. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve it without my coaches and teammates.”
Hauswirth played youth soccer for the Woodbury Athletic Association. When he was 12, however, he decided to join the Minnesota Thunder Academy after his Woodbury team lost 10-0 to MTA.
Because of U.S. Soccer Federation and Minnesota State High School League rules, Hauswirth had to quit playing soccer for Woodbury High School before his junior year in order to play year-round with the MTA development team.
He hoped it would help him play Division I soccer. In 2012, the USSF created a 10-month season for academy teams, expanding into the fall, with the goal of improving USA soccer from the ground up in order to compete on an international level.
However, the High School League states student-athletes can’t play on two teams in the same sport during the same season.
Now headed to Washington, Hauswirth has no regrets.
“You have to know your goals and set your priorities,” Hauswirth said. “You’re going to have to sacrifice some things and challenge yourself to follow your dreams.”
Two summers ago, Hauswirth played well in a development academy showcase, catching the attention of major colleges. Following the tournament, he received a hand-written letter from an assistant coach at Washington.
He then made a visit to Seattle to see the campus, meet the Huskies and take in a home game.
With Washington, Hauswirth hopes to avoid being redshirted. It’s possible he could crack the starting lineup at one of the outside back spots.
“I want to contribute right away,” he said.
Allowing himself to look beyond Washington for a moment, Hauswirth said his goal is to play soccer professionally. His most realistic destination is Major League Soccer, where another Woodbury resident, Eric Miller, was recently made the fifth overall pick.
Hauswirth played with Miller at Woodbury when he was a freshman and Miller was a senior.
“My dream is to play pro,” Hauswirth said. “The MLS isn’t going to be easy, but I believe I can make it.”