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Grossmann a rising star with Houston Dynamo Academy

Former Maui United, Albion player recently won Brian Ching Golden Boot Award

Jacob Grossmann, a native of Kauai, is a fast-rising member of the Houston Dynamo Academy. His career started to take off with Maui United, which switched its affiliation to Albion Soccer Club. SHELLEY PELLEGRINO photo

Jacob Grossmann knows just how fortunate he is. So does Brian Ching.

Grossmann, a 14-year-old from Kauai who lived on Maui for more than a year, is a fast-rising member of the Houston Dynamo Academy. He was recently named one of two winners of the Brian Ching Golden Boot Award from the soccer academy after scoring 14 goals in 14 matches for various age-level teams.

“I just feel like my ball work and technical skills have developed so much that I’m able to go up and play with the older guys,” Grossmann said via phone from Houston last week. “I’m able to dominate in my own age group as well. I actually got a lot faster as well in terms of speed and stamina, so that’s another crucial plan I’ve been working on, but, yeah, I’ve definitely been keeping up with scoring goals and making sure I’m providing for my team.”

To win an award named for Ching, a two-time MLS Cup winner for the franchise and former U.S. national team member from Oahu, is special for Grossmann.

“Brian Ching came out a long time ago and was definitely a top talent for Hawaii,” Grossmann said. “Everybody knows him — he was definitely an inspiration.”

Jacob Grossmann was recently named one of two winners of the Brian Ching Golden Boot Award after scoring 14 goals in 14 matches. Photo courtesy of Houston Dynamo Academy

Ching is still an ambassador for the Dynamo, from which he retired in 2013. He said Grossmann winning the award named after him warmed his heart.

“Yeah, definitely,” Ching said. “When you’re playing, as I was kind of going through my career, you don’t sit back and think about kind of the impact that you do have on kids coming out of Hawaii. But, you know, just kind of putting the dream out there in front of them, then you kind of retire and see something like this … it just brings a smile to your face.”

Grossmann’s goal is to become a professional player as soon as possible — he said college soccer is his back-up plan.

“There’s definitely a lot sacrifices you have to make for soccer,” he said. “Of course, I miss going back home and going surfing and hang out with friends, but if you want to become the best and you want to become a professional and you have a dream, you have to set your mind to it.”

Grossmann often skipped two age levels to play with the Dynamo U-17 team last season and now often plays with the U-19 squad. His career started to take off with Maui United, which switched its affiliation to Albion Soccer Club about a year ago.

“I was playing for Maui United from time to time, flying over for games when I lived on Kauai and I wanted to continue my development with Maui United because they were one of the best clubs in Hawaii,” Grossmann said.

After starting to play the game as a 5-year-old on the Garden Isle, Grossmann caught the eye of Brent Nunes, who is now the technical director for Albion on Maui.

“I really liked coach Brent’s coaching style, so I thought maybe I could move up and get more of that,” Grossmann said. “So it just pretty much led to that.”

Albion SC is an organization with teams in Las Vegas and Southern California, as well as 25 age-group teams on Maui with a total of about 280 players here, according to Nunes. Albion recently announced an agreement with Major League Soccer to be part of the MLS Youth League.

“My vision is to inspire others to keep working hard chasing their dreams,” Nunes wrote in a text message to The Maui News. “In the last 3-4 years we have sent kids to L.A. Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes, and now Houston Dynamo. Maui has great soccer players and with everyone working hard focus on youth soccer we can keep providing the pathway.”

Paul Holocher, the director of the Dynamo Academy, met Grossmann when he was director of development for Maui United.

“Even then, he was an incredibly motivated player with an amazing mentality and when him and his father had to move out here, it was just a perfect opportunity for Jacob to join us, and now those same qualities are really showing through in our Academy,” Holocher said in a story on the team website.

Things have moved rapidly in the last year for Grossmann since he was selected to the academy and moved from Maui to Houston with his father a year ago. His mother and sister are back on Kauai.

“Coach Brent actually set me up for tryouts with a couple MLS teams, including the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes,” Grossmann said. “At the time I was trying out with the Sounders 2005 team and the opportunity came up to do a tryout with the Dynamo and everything just clicked with them. My teammates are really nice, everyone was amazing.”

He enjoys the opportunity, but there has been some big changes living in the nation’s fourth-largest city.

“I love it — it’s extremely hot here but pretty much other than that, everything is awesome,” Grossmann said. “It is a major culture shock going from one of the smallest places in the world to going to one of the biggest cities in the U.S. So, that was a little insane — definitely there’s a lot more residents here than there was on Kauai and everything is more, like, big. Everything’s big in Texas. Bigger than Maui, too.”

* Robert Collias is a rcollias@mauinews.com

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