One year ago today, Newburyport soccer player John Spears was toiling away on the junior varsity squad. Today he is about to start his senior season as a varsity co-captain.
“It was really nice to see him elected as captain,” Clippers coach Shawn Bleau said of Spears. “I think the team recognized that he was a leader. He stepped up, and that speaks a lot of him as a player and as a person to be respected by your peers like that.”
The Byfield resident has been playing soccer for eight years, initially playing indoor for Seacoast Academy. But when it came time to look at his high school options, Spears decided on Newburyport based on the strength of the soccer program there. A sweeper, Spears can get loud in the back, and that’s what got him on the varsity squad. But at the start of the 2012 season, he was playing the bridesmaid on the JV squad once again.
“I was a little bit disappointed, but I thought I might as well make the most of it,” Spears said. “Right as we got into the season, I started leading the team from the back. I was really loud back there.”
Playing alongside stopper and current junior Jake Shactman, Spears was able to direct some of the newer players on the more technical aspects of the game. As the season progressed, Bleau noticed Spears’ work ethic, and before he knew it, Spears was playing varsity against Amesbury just after the season’s halfway mark.
“I played stopper while Alex Salah played sweeper,” Spears said of his first varsity tilt. “I played the majority of that game and played fairly well. Coach liked that, and after that, I played on varsity for the rest of the season.”
In fact, once Spears was in a game, he was never taken out.