By Rob LeDonne
Carmel Valley native Garrett Heine didn’t realize that he could pursue soccer after high school until he was in the midst of his sophomore year as a student at Torrey Pines.
“I never really knew much about playing for college until then,” he explains from his North County home. “I was always thinking season-to-season, never too far in the future. However, some of the older kids on my team were going to college to play and I thought, ‘Wow. That’s definitely something I’d want to do.’” In addition, Heine describes playing soccer, namely for Torrey Pines, “the most fun I’ve ever had, especially being with my friends. It’s all about passion and everyone bonds.”
With a goal to play after high school and beyond firmly planted in his brain, Heine started messaging a variety of schools. “I sent out emails to maybe 20, 30 schools... the kinds that were long shots, but I figured I’d take a chance and see what happens. I started that process to get my feet in the water to learn more about playing for college during the summer between my sophomore and junior years, and it escalated from there.”
Fortunately, Heine has a rich history playing soccer to back up his aspirations.
“I’ve been playing competitively nonstop, year-round since I was 8,” he notes. “I’ve played for most of the major clubs in San Diego and North County.”
Like most kids his age, he got his start in the sport after his parents signed him up for recreational soccer, and from there it snowballed.
“At first I was like everyone else playing,” he explained. “After awhile, I started to really, really like it.”
At one point or another, Heine has played for Torrey Pines (both junior and varsity), as well as clubs such as Albion, Surf, the Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks, and, most recently, La Jolla’s Nomads soccer club, which is a branch team of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Throughout a typical year, Heine would move around from one team to another.
“For my sophomore and junior years, I’d take a break playing club soccer to be on the high school team, which is basically what everyone did,” said Heine, who explained that following his junior year the Development Academy instituted new rules for club players about taking that break.
“They think (high school is) lower level playing and that it hurts the development of someone who wants to pursue this long-term, as well as to compete at the international level.”
Since Heine wanted to play soccer for a major division, he stuck with the club soccer throughout his senior year and it’s through his coach playing for the Surf club that he was discovered by George Washington University, a college located in the heart of Washington D.C.
“The coach at George Washington is young, and he’s trying to build a new team. He talked to my coach at Surf and watched a couple of my games. Right off the bat, I didn’t know much about the school but it ended up being a good fit for me.”
Heine was also attracted to George Washington because of its conference level — A10, which is made up of an esteemed group of competitive, athletic schools.
Once Heine visited George Washington’s campus during last winter he was sold, and this past February he officially signed with the school on National Signing Day.
“I graduate from Torrey Pines in June, and then I go to the campus with the fall athletes a few weeks before the start of the school year at George Washington to get acclimated with the campus and start practicing,” Heine says, looking forward to his next couple of months. “Until then, I’ll be trying to improve my fitness and skills going into camp so I can have a big impact my first year there.”
Overall, he’s excited about the new experience: “I’ve been visiting the East Coast since I was young, so going to college there was something I always wanted to do.”