Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies

Local Soccer Player Pursuing His Goal

As a kindergarten student at Westchase Elementary, Nick Skubis vividly remembers his answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” His answer was a professional soccer player and he’s never wavered from that dream. At the age of four, Skubis started playing recreational soccer locally in Westchase before joining Tampa Bay United Soccer Club (TBU) when he was seven.

“I’m in my eleventh year here. I grew up with a lot of the coaches,” said Skubis.

Throughout his soccer career, he has played several different positions as he moved up through the Futures, USSDA, USL Academy and MLS NEXT Academy programs at TBU. Ultimately, Skubis became a midfielder and lists his strengths as ball pass distribution, coachability and the ability to use both feet equally. Among many career highlights, he helped his team win in the championship final of the 2022 USL Academy League Playoffs, earning Golden Ball honors as the best player in the tournament. He credits TBU and his coaches for being supportive of him, especially his coach for the past several years, Brian Johnson.

“He’s been great,” said Skubis. “He helps me get better and that’s all I can ask for.”

Last August, Skubis received a call from a Tampa Bay Rowdies coach asking him to attend training the next day. Ironically, the Rowdies now train at the same facility on Waters Avenue that Skubis trained at when TBU used to hold games and training sessions there.

“I was nervous, but it was really cool to meet the guys and they were super welcoming,” said Skubis. “All the guys are so nice.”

Skubis continued training with the Rowdies and then signed a USL Academy contract in March for the 2024 season. Under a USL Academy contract, which is an amateur contract, Skubis is eligible to train and play for the Rowdies in professional matches while still maintaining his college eligibility. As for college, Skubis will be attending The Ohio State University next fall where he signed on to play soccer.

“I always wanted to go to a good D1 school that’s good at soccer and also academically,” said Skubis. “I want to do business.”

Skubis described the college soccer recruiting process as stressful. He said that he would send out a lot of emails before he played in soccer showcases to let coaches know his schedule. As a result, Ohio State saw Skubis play in an event last year and responded to his email. This led to calls with coaches and ultimately a campus visit.

“I was super happy when Ohio State reached out because I saw that their business school was really good,” said Skubis. “Their coach is awesome.”

A few days after his visit, Skubis got an offer to join the soccer team. Though he had received offers from four other schools, he chose Ohio State. In July, he’ll be headed up to Columbus, Ohio, to begin training and work with the strength coach to prepare for the season.

Skubis learned a lot during the college recruiting process and said the most important thing he did was emailing every one of the schools he could see himself going to. He said that some athletes only want to play at a D1 school, but it’s important to keep all your options open.

“Schools will reach out to you. Don’t ignore the non-D1 schools,” said Skubis. “Always, every single school, at least talk to them.”

When asked what advice he’d give to aspiring athletes, Skubis said that hard work and just being yourself are very important.

“It’s not just an on the field thing, it’s off the field. Be a good person, help your teammate, help others, be a leader,” said Skubis. “That’ll help you not only as a player but as a person, and that can take you a lot further than you expect because you get these little pieces that end up helping you in life and on the field as well.”

In addition to his coaches, Skubis credits his parents, Nancy and Ryan Skubis, for helping him be successful.

“They know I’ve always wanted to be a professional soccer player. They want me to follow my dreams so they’ve always been super good about getting me to training and games,” said Skubis. “They’re always supporting me throughout everything. They always want the best out of me. I love that about them. They’re always there for me, too.”


*Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies


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