SJEarthquakes.com sat down with the newest Earthquake, the club's first-round SuperDraft pick, JJ Koval. The Stanford standout midfielder talks his excitement about beginning his professional career, staying in the Bay and his role on Will Ferrell's blockbuster hit Kicking and Screaming.
SJEarthquakes.com: How were you feeling leading up to the SuperDraft?
JJ Koval: Excited, anxious, a little bit of nerves. The Combine was awesome. Being invited to the Combine was a real honor. To go and I felt like I did well, that was very exciting. Once the Combine was over, I was like ‘alright, well it’s not really in my hands anymore and I’m just excited to see what unfolds.' I was very excited but also anxious and a bit nervous.
SJEQ: What excites you the most about becoming a professional soccer player?
JK: It’s been a dream my whole life since I started playing when I was 3 or 4. It took a lot of sacrifice, a lot of extra hours – skipping out on other stuff to play soccer. [Laughs] A lot of people thought I was crazy which I probably was. But that’s cool, it just makes this journey and opportunity mean that much more to me knowing that I’ve put in a lot of hard work and it’s paid off a bit. Now, moving forward, it’s the beginning of a lot more hard work.
SJEQ: There’s another Stanford guy with a very similar last name here - Dave Kaval. Is that going to get confusing?
JK: [Laughs] It might, I don’t know. He seems like a really good guy so I don’t mind it. He let me try on his Google Glasses. It’s a really cool thing; I felt very futuristic.
SJEQ: You’re joining old Stanford teammate Adam Jahn or as we know him as Pillow Feet. Do you have any nick names?
JK: [Laughs] All my friends call me J, which is short for JJ - as if that name wasn’t short enough.
SJEQ: Is there anyone on the Quakes that you're excited about playing with the most?
JK: I look up a lot to Sam Cronin. I think he’s an excellent player, and he plays in the midfield as well. Like I said, I’ve looked up to him for many years. I watched him even when he was back at Wake Forest, so I’m very excited to learn from him.
SJEQ: What is your most memorable Quakes game you've been to?
JK: I was unable to go to Stanford for Cali Clasico this year. [Laughs] I wasn’t there, but that one was really exciting. I got to get the whole scoop especially from Adam [Jahn] afterwards. I wish I would have been there, but that’s got to be the most exciting game since I’ve been up at Stanford that I’ve seen and heard about.
SJEQ: Is that the game you're most looking forward to in a Quakes jersey (June 28, Stanford Stadium vs. LA Galaxy)?
JK: To be honest, I’m excited for any game. I’m just excited to start training with the team and being a part of it all. I’m excited for everything.
SJEQ: Lastly, we hear you're already a movie star. Tell us about your role on Kicking and Screaming.
JK: [Laughs] So in 5th and 6th grade, that’s when they were filming Kicking and Screaming down at Universal Studios in Southern California. It was very cool. I was on Robert Duvall’s team. [Laughs] He’s not the best soccer coach, but he got the job done. It was so cool meeting Will Ferrell; he’s a very nice guy.