Every year, the San Jose Earthquakes Academy sends numerous players to top universities around the country. Some will go on to play professionally, while others are being put in a position to exceed in other fields.
With the Quakes Academy hitting on all cylinders and Homegrown signings surely coming through in the near future, sjearthquakes.com chats with former members of San Jose’s youth system that are now competing at the collegiate level.
Full name: Jamal Bernardez
College: San Diego State University
Which Years with the SJEQ Academy: 2014-2016
Q: How are you enjoying college so far and what led you to choose the school you’re attending?
A: What made me join SDSU was the coaches and what they were about. During my last year with the Academy, I was attending Community College. I was talking to a couple of schools but none of the talks really went through because they couldn’t get me into the school and weren’t interested in waiting for me to finish up Community College first. That’s when SDSU came around. Coach Kirshner was willing to wait until I finished my two years of CC and help me through the process. Then as we continued to talk and I learned what the foundations of his program were, I knew that this was the program for me. And so far everything that I have been told, has been true. Since the first day I arrived, I have felt at home. They accepted me into their Aztec family with open arms and have made my first couple of months a very enjoyable experience.
Q: How did playing for the Earthquakes Academy prepare you for the next level?
A: Just competing and giving it your all at the highest level day in and day out in the academy really helped prepare me for the next level. Here at SDSU we work extremely hard, always striving to be better than what we were yesterday. By the Academy giving me the opportunity to be in that high-level setting, it made the transition to college soccer easier.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with your former coaches and teammates? Do you share experiences and advice with each other?
A: Of course! I still talk and hangout with my Bart crew (Diego Alonso, Marcus, Simmons Rei Dorwart, Alex Fluitt, Alejandro Munoz) boys a good amount. I’ll also talk to Armon Ojula, Rory Birse, John Austin Ricks and Cesar Silva from time to time. Often just talking about what we’ve experienced and reminiscing on our times together in the academy. Also, old coaches like Luis and Trejo often call and check up on me.
Q: What are your on-field goals for this season and your four years in college?
A: I have a couple of on-field goals. I want to help my team be as successful as possible. Doing whatever is needed for us to succeed on the field. The next one would be to develop. Just listening to what my coaches have to say and getting better and better every time I step onto the field. And the last would be to win a National Championship.
Q: What lessons did you learn from the Academy that you still carry with you today?
A: For me the most important lesson I learned was to be a student of the game; to be coachable and always work on getting better. That’s something coach Paul Holocher talked about a lot. Learning from mistakes that you or others make and understanding your role within the team.