BY CHANTEL JENNINGS
Daily Sports Writer
Published January 11, 2009
On New Year's Day, junior Peri Marosevic awoke to a missed call from his agent. When he returned the call, he learned he was one of nine elite soccer players in the country who had been offered professional contracts with Generation adidas.
“I didn’t really say anything at first,” Marosevic said. “It didn’t really click right away. ... Once I told my parents, they flipped. My mom started crying.”
Major League Soccer and Adidas team up every year to select the most talented collegiate and youth soccer players in the country. These players are offered three-year Generation adidas contracts, with the opportunity for a two-year extension. The contract is worth between $65,000 and $125,000 per year, putting the athletes in the top quarter of all MLS salaries as rookies
Since all Generation adidas players are selected before their college graduations, players are given educational grants to continue their studies in addition to their original contracts. Marosevic won't be continuing to play at Michigan, meaning he'll have to take three more semesters of class before he is eligible to graduate. But Marosevic said he plans to complete his Sport Management degree by taking online classes once he gets used to the lifestyle of a professional athlete.
When Michigan coach Burns recruited Marosevic, Burns made him promise that even if he chose to leave college early, he would eventually finish his studies and graduate from Michigan with a degree.
“It’s great when a coach gets to see their players earn their degrees and move into law school, or find that first job as an engineer, or leave school early and begin their professional career as a soccer player,” Burns said. “That was really Peri’s goal and ambition all along, and he’s taking hold of his dreams.”
But Marosevic began taking hold of his dreams long before he arrived at Michigan three years ago.
Marosevic moved away from Rockford, Ill. at the age of 14 to live, attend school and train at The Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla. After playing on the Under-14 soccer team for a year when he was 13, officials asked him to move to the training home of the US Under-17 National Soccer Team to pursue his professional soccer aspirations more seriously.
At The Soccer Academy, Marosevic flourished under a rigorous soccer and academic schedule. He graduated high school in three years as the valedictorian at the age of 17. Following graduation, he had multiple scholarship offers but chose to move north to Michigan to play for Burns.
“(Burns) will tell you everything straight up," Marosevic said. "He’s not going to keep anything hidden behind closed doors. I wanted a coach that wasn’t going to hold anything back, that was going to tell me the truth no matter what happens. I got that from Burns — from my first impression, he was exactly who I wanted to be coached by.”
In his freshman year, the forward led the Wolverines in goals scored and points, the first time in program history a freshman accomplished the feat. Over the next two years, he continued his streak of leading Michigan in scoring, while racking up honors including the NSCAA/Adidas All-Great Lakes Region first team, All-Big Ten first team, Academic All-Big Ten Conference and U-M Athletic Academic Achievement awards.
A week after receiving the Generation adidas contract, Marosevic traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to play in the MLS Player Combine.
The combine divides 70 top MLS prospects into four teams. Over five days, the four teams practice and compete against one another, offering MLS coaches and managers a final chance to evaluate the top talents for Thursday's MLS draft.
Less than four hours from where he spent his high school years, Marosevic wasted no time proving himself worthy of the MLS, scoring during the first match of the combine.
As Michigan soccer looks forward to a Marosevic-less offense, Burns knows there will be more opportunities for a few of his players as he calls on them to be more of an offensive presence. Burns explained that having Marosevic on the field provided other players with the confidence to take chances, because they know Marosevic would control the middle of the field.
“Aside from his play on the field, what I’ll miss more than anything is Peri’s personality,” Burns said. “He’s a guy that makes our job as coaches fun, and he has a great sense of humor and a great approach to life.”
While Marosevic waits to find out which MLS team he will end up with, he couldn’t be happier with how his dreams have become a reality. Few 19-year-olds can say they’ve accomplished their life goal.
“Professional soccer was always my dream from when I first started playing at age three to now,” Marosevic said. “And now, being able to be living that, it feels great.”