Justin Willis: Being a Hometown Hero

In my article Kicking It At A Soccer Game, I mentioned how I was able to interview some of the players from the Carolina Railhawks. So for the next installment in this series, I am going to tell you about Justin Willis, a current player for the Railhawks.

Here I am meeting Justin Willis.  

Justin is in his first year playing for the Railhawks. He first started playing soccer when he was four years old playing for the local YMCA team for fun. He did not start playing competitively until he was around 11 or 12. Justin stated that he never thought he would be playing professionally in front of his hometown crowd. Justin is a Raleigh native and attended NC State. So having a chance to play at home is a dream come true.

His idol growing up was like most soccer players, David Beckham. He stated that when he was younger, he was able to attend a soccer match in England. He said that was a real eye opener. To see a community embrace, a sport he loves was fantastic.

When asked what advice he would give to younger players? Willis said,”to have fun and enjoy the game. Because you never know how long, you will be able to play.” The biggest thing that Justin stressed was to get your education. He has a degree in Sports Management from NC State. With this degree, he will be involved in this sport for years to come.

Willis also believes in giving back. He continues to train with the players from NC State. He likes being a mentor to the younger generation as his dad was to him. Justin states that his dad was his greatest mentor in his life. On and off the field his father encourages him to achieve his dreams. He has also dedicated the rest of his playing career to his late grandmother who died two years ago.

Here is another picture with the girls. Maddie was working, so Mikaela got to bring a friend and yes Gracie has Beary. 

The biggest impression that this wonderful young man made on me was how humble he was. Learning from injuries and life experiences has made him a better person. He has not regretted one injury or experience in his life because that is what made him into the man he is today.

This is the second post in a series about the Carolina Railhawks.

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