A 2014 Washington Youth Soccer State Cup Champion with the EFC U17 Red squad, Eastside alum Nick Morgan knows something about hard work paying off as a youth player. As a two-time NCAA Division II Tournament competitor, and a GNAC champion, he also knows something about how all that time on the training pitch, and dedication to getting better every day, helps a player keep improving once he or she has moved on to the collegiate level.
“Eastside prepared me comprehensively for the collegiate level,” Nick explained. “Our coach, Mark Kovats, did an incredible job teaching our team to play with grit and heart and to never quit when we were down in a game. I wanted to win for my teammates and my coach at Eastside, and that translated to college. There are not many feelings better than winning and sharing those moments with your closest friends.”
After all those years on the soccer field—Nick first joined Eastside FC at age 14—one might think he was ready for a break from the beautiful game, but although he now works in sales for a tech startup in Seattle called Keepe, Nick also finds time to give back to the EFC community, coaching three teams for the club, including the Girls 07 White and 11 Blue teams. It’s with this latest generation of Eastside players that he hopes he can have an impact, passing along some of the traits that helped his teams to such great success.
“Our team qualified for the USYS National League, which was a major accomplishment for us. We beat nationally ranked opponents in showcases and tournaments all over the United States. We also won State Cup our U17 year and traveled to Far West Regionals twice,” he continued. “The National League tournaments in Las Vegas and North Carolina were a huge test for our team, as we were playing against some of the top recruits from around the country, but going to Hawaii and New Mexico for Regionals remain a couple of the best memories in my life.”
That success in the youth game at Eastside carried over to Nick’s college days, suiting up as a critical member of a record-setting Western Washington University backline. The team won the GNAC Championship in his senior year (2019) and competed in consecutive NCAA tournaments. Over his four-year career, Nick appeared in 66 games for the Vikings, starting 54.
“The highlight of my college career was the two trips we made to the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “The experience of playing in games that big was surreal. But even more important than that, it was incredible to play soccer every day with my best friends, working towards a common goal. Seeing the rapid improvement both in myself and in my teammates was satisfying. It made me feel very proud, because I knew the hard work we’d put in on the field and in the weight room every day.”
Individually, Nick garnered a lot of acclaim through his play. He was a first-team All-Conference selection for KingCo as both a junior and senior at Skyline High School, while also honored as second-team All-State as a junior, and first-team All-State as a senior, when he was named to the Seattle Times All-Area team as well.
Translating individual honors into an opportunity to play at the NCAA level takes work, though, as Nick explains. “My biggest piece of advice to aspiring Eastside players who are getting into their last years of high school would be to send emails to college coaches to get them to come to showcases and tournaments to watch you play. College ID camps are also a great way to learn more about programs and understand the ability required to play at that level.”
His last piece of advice rings true for players of all ages, however. “Finally, just enjoy the sport. No matter your age now, or whether you eventually go on to play in college, there’s a lot of soccer to be played, so it’s important to make it fun.”