In competitive sports, such as soccer, hockey, and football, it’s quite common for athletes to move far from home in order to pursue a career, whether it be professionally or for college.
in Joseph Vinson’s case, he moved from Lauderhill, Florida, USA, to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in order to attend Carleton University while playing varsity soccer.
“Really hot. It’s different from here, because every single coach had their own different style, different attitudes, different ways that they saw the game, so, it was great to be able to learn from a bunch of different people,” Vinson recalled about growing up in Florida.
From people who are close to Vinson, he has been described as a humble and respectful person.
“Joe is a very respectful and determined young man who will go out of his way to put a smile on another person’s face. If my children grow to be half the person that Joe is, then I’ll know I did a good job,” Vinson’s older brother Sam said.
Vinson is currently heading into his second season with the Ravens men’s soccer team. He’s also majoring in Computer Science – Game Design and Development.
Vinson got started in the sport of soccer by watching Sam play the sport.
“When I was eight, I went to this tournament with my brother, and he was 13, and the whole atmosphere of being there set me on the path of soccer as what I wanted to do,” Vinson said.
As Vinson got older, he began implementing his brother’s style into his play. Meanwhile, Sam has also learned a more technical side of soccer due to watching Vinson.
“He was always the more physical brother when it came to playing, and I learned, that at some point, you have to get physical in the sport to be successful, and I was always more technical, so, with him, he just learned a more technical side of the game,” Vinson said about how they grew off of each other.
Sam has also gotten the chance to develop his own play by watching Vinson’s game.
“As an older brother, watching Joe develop over the years pushed me to be an even better player so he could have a role model to surpass,” Sam recalled.
“It clearly has paid off as I am so proud of what Joe has already accomplished, and know that he is still growing and developing,” he added.
Vinson attended American Heritage Plantation High School, where he played on the varsity soccer team, as well as playing for the Boca United Football Club in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USDA).
During his high school career, Vinson became the youngest player to step onto the field with the varsity team, and in his Junior year of high school, his team went on an incredible run to the playoff finals, in which they lost the game in penalty kicks.
“We didn’t concede a goal for the first 12 games of the season, we only conceded seven goals total, and we were one of the top teams in the State going into playoffs, and at that point, I had about six goals and five assists playing at Left back,” Vinson reminisced.
“And during the playoffs, my coach decided to move me up into the wing position, and then through the four games that we made it to the Regional Finals, I managed to get my stat total up to 15 goals and 11 assists, and we were just really pushing. We had three straight overtime games, always went to the 120th minute,” he added.
Due to his success on his high school team, Vinson was a Broward/Sun-Sentinel All-County First-Team selection, as well as a Miami Daid All-County First-Team selection.
Vinson also had an amazing experience with the Boca United Football Club, due to the fact that since they played with all the MLS academy’s, Vinson got the chance to learn from top quality coaches and players.
“We play with all the MLS academy’s, like the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls, so it was a really great experience to be able to against all these players that grew up playing for these MLS academy’s, and professional clubs, and learning from the top coaches you could possibly get in the States,” Vinson said.
Vinson’s decision to come to Carleton was the influence of the soccer and the academics.
“The campus is beautiful, and the facilities are incredible, Coach Kwesi Loney is an amazing coach, and the team is a bunch of amazing guys,” Vinson said.
“But the soccer aspect, we’re a highly competitive team, that is the culture I have always grown up in, and that is always where I want to be,” he added.
Due to playing soccer competitively in a new country, Vinson has noticed some culture changes between soccer in Canada and in the USA.
“The biggest thing is that in Canada, there are a lot more players that are technical and are focused on the more technical aspect of the game, while in the US, it’s a lot more physical,” Vinson said.
Due to being an athlete, Vinson has faced many challenged and adversities, with the biggest one being in his senior year in high school.
“I still didn’t have a college commitment, and that whole year was just focusing on improving myself, trying to get my name out there, see what college would want me,” Vinson said.
“And I’m so thankful that coach Kwesi looked up on me and gave me an opportunity to play here,” he added.
Another adversity Vinson faced happened this year when he had to sit out most of the season due to a hand injury.
“I just wanted to be able to get back on the field and play. I’ve never had an injury that physically forced me to not be able to play in a game before, so I was a completely different experience,” Vinson said.
“But it also humbled me, because I got to watch more of my team, I got to learn more, and the second I was able to get back onto the field and play for the team, it was the best experience that you can feel as a player,” he added.
Due to the challenges Vinson has faced, he has also grown as a player on and off the field to become who he is today.
“I think I’ve learned to control some of the immaturities that I had, just always being too excited, sometimes talking too much, and sometimes I had to learn to relax and be able to go with the team. But another thing that I learned is that at some point someone is going to have to step up and be able to take control and take leadership,” Vinson said.
“And it can come from anyone, it doesn’t matter if you’re the youngest player or the oldest player on the team. As long as you step up and try to perform the tasks and help your team get the win, I think that’s the best experience that you can learn,” he added.
Due to growing more as a person, Vinson has learned many valuable life lessons that he can apply to life outside of soccer.
“Soccer teaches you that you can’t just get pushed around all the time. You have to be able to step up and you have to be able to defend yourself at certain points, but it also teaches you to be humble, because no matter how talented you think you are, there’s always someone, somewhere, that didn’t have the same opportunity as you but was better than you,” Vinson said.
Due to all the lessons Vinson has learned, and due to the adversities he has faced, he has opened his mind to adapt to all the different coaching styles he has been part of.
“Each coach had something different that they taught me, and I learned a valuable life lesson through each coach, because everyone has a different style, every single one of them inspired me to change a certain aspect of my game,” Vinson said.
“And because I had so many different coaches growing up, I feel like I’ve been able to learn from so many different backgrounds of soccer, and helped me become the complete player I am today,” he added.
Throughout this past season, Vinson has had so many memorable moments as a Raven, he can’t pick just one.
“Overall, the season and playing with the team has been an amazing experience. It was just an incredible ride,” Vinson said.
Due to the success the team had; Vinson noted the team became a brotherhood to him due to everyone bonding so well with each other.
“Everyone is so close, and we all bonded so well during our season, yeah, we’ve faced a couple hardships, but as a group I think we banded together as a group of teammates, great friends, and they’re like a team of brothers to me,” Vinson said.
In terms of next season, Vinson is looking forward to being with his teammates and the team as a whole.
“It’s another year to play with the guys. I’m looking forward to having the exhilarating feeling of a season and being able to know that you’re here and you’re trying to make an impact.”