Southern States Soccer is pleased, and also sad, to announce that one of their academy players has left the club to make a big step in his soccer journey.
2008 player, Julian “Jules” Blalock, recently joined FC Barcelona’s Residency Academy. He has been a part of the Southern States family since the beginning, and his time at the club was a memorable one.
The past seven years for Julian has been nothing short of many accomplishments and growth, not just within the game, but mentally as well.
“When I came here, I grew almost instantly. I started to learn not just how to use my athleticism, I started implicating the fundamentals of soccer into it,” says Julian. “Now you can see that my progress here has been great and has gotten me this opportunity to go to a great place to expand my growth.”
As for his new club, Julian is looking forward to the tough competition and what he can achieve at Barcelona’s Residency Academy. Having already visited one of Europe’s top academies, he was able to see their style of play and feels good about joining the squad. While Julian is looking forward to creating memories and growing at his new home, he will miss Southern States greatly.
“[I will] definitely [miss] the people here. I’ve been here seven years now so I definitely got to make a lot of connections with people here,” says Julian. “The fields, just being able to come here. You got the great fields here. Definitely most importantly, the people and the coaches here and the players here.”
His advice for other kids around his age and younger: Keep a positive mindset.
“You can be the best player in the world, if your mentality isn’t right, you’re not going to get anywhere with it.”
As for Julian’s development, many have seen his improvement throughout the years he has been at the club. His parents, though, are the central figures to see the progess of Julian into the bright player he is today.
Compared to other clubs around the area, Andrew and Bethany Blalock found that Southern States was the best fit for their only child. They heard about the club by word of mouth and were happy with their decision. The two believe that their son’s time at Southern States will help him significantly in this next step of his journey.
“We believe Southern States has made him a complete soccer player already,” says Andrew. “I’m very excited to see how his playing from Southern States transitions into his new field of play. Seeing if he can still use what he learned here there. It’ll be exciting to see that.”
“We can definitely tell a difference in his development here with Southern States so it’s been a great experience,” said Bethany.
In addition to the immediate growth of their son’s skills, the closeness of the club and family-like environment is what stood out the most to the parents.
“It’s like a brotherhood, they have each other’s back. They look forward to coming practice, when they’re not here they want to be here, when they’re not playing soccer they want to be playing soccer,” said Andrew.
Bethany, agrees with her husband.
“It’s very personable. They really get to know their players. It is like a family, so we do consider Southern States our family,” said Bethany.
As for advice from a parental point of view, both Andrew and Bethany feel it is important for parents to keep an open mind and be patient with the process.
“You have to be patient, you have to be willing to sacrifice your own personal time. As far as knowing that you may have tournaments three times within one month. And of course you’ve worked Monday through Friday. It just goes back to sacrificing and wanting your child to achieve their dreams,” said Bethany.
“Keep an open mind, trust the process,” says Andrew. “It’s a very cliche thing to say. A lot of people say trust the process, but are you really trusting the process when you’re thinking the coaches are doing something that they shouldn’t be doing with the child… I think Southern States is really great at finding the tools that make that one particular kid better for the team.”
“Definitely trusting the process, trusting the coaches,” Bethany adds. “Sometimes it may not be what you want to hear. But also the firmness is what you appreciate.”
Carl Reynolds, Director of Coaching, coached Julian and has seen him mature as a player and person the past seven years.
“When he first came in, he was really raw. Obviously, high ceiling in terms of his physical capacities. But through the years has technically developed tremendously, really grown to understand the game and his specific position and has turned into an all-round really good football player.”
As for his skills and talents, Carl believes that Julian’s great physical presence, his explosive style of play, and the tools he was given at Southern States will be valuable for him and Barcelona’s Residency Academy. As well as, Julian’s gift of finishing.
It was a joy for Carl to coach Julian throughout the years. The coach defines Julian as a hard worker, a player who wants to learn and improve in certain areas, and a humble kid.
“I’m really excited for him. I think it’s another step in his journey and something that through the years he’s more than earned,” said Carl.
The Blalocks thank God for this opportunity and are grateful towards Southern States SC for developing Julian into the player he is today.
“If you want your child to be creative and to stand out especially in the South Region of the U.S., you would definitely want to send them to Southern States. Regardless if it’s Atlanta, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, we still think that Southern States is probably one of the better places for your child,” said Andrew.
Everyone at Southern States wishes Julian and his family the best and are excited for this next step in his journey!