Adrian Rebollar has spent just about his entire life playing soccer in either his home town of Watsonville or somewhere in the area.
But, the 19-year-old Watsonville High alumuns is going to have to leave the den for nearly two months, which is something he is not accustomed to.
“I’ve always played close to home,” he said.
Rebollar is heading to Virginia to play with Lionsbirdge FC of the United Soccer League 2, formally known as the Premier Development League.
So far, he said the biggest challenge for him will be trying to get out of his comfort zone.
“Soccer wise, it’s going to be a good experience to see the different style of play that there is compared to here in California,” he said.
Rebollar said moving to Virginia is also a big step for him in his personal life because he’ll be on his own and meeting new people.
CSU Monterey Bay men’s soccer coach Shane Carew said the easiest thing to do for Rebollar would’ve been to stay close to home and play a second season for the Santa Cruz Breakers.
But after a long chat with his ace midfielder, they both decided the best move was to send him to Virginia to gain more experience.
“It’s going to be a very diverse part of the world for him and I think that’s awesome,” Carew said. “I think he’s really going to learn about who he is as a person and as a soccer player.”
Carew said that’s the main reason why he likes to send players to other teams in the first place. He said about half of the roster is filled with local players but he wants to get them exposed in other areas of the country, which is one of the goals for Carew.
“I want (Rebollar) to shine as an example for local kids,” Carew said. “I can’t think highly enough about him.”
Last year, Rebollar had his first stint with the Santa Cruz Breakers, which were newcomers to the USL2.
Rebollar started his soccer career playing with the Santa Cruz Breakers Academy U14 team in 2014 and continued playing until he joined CSU Monterey Bay in 2017.
Rebollar said the amount of colleges available to players who want play is limited.
“It’s pretty much a privilege to be able to play at that level,” Rebollar said.
Rebollar has flown out to places like Oregon, Indianapolis, Texas and even Canada for soccer showcases.
But he said his aspiration was to play at the collegiate level.
Rebollar talked to Carew, who thought it’d be a great opportunity for him to play somewhere other than his own backyard.
Carew said there’s a lot of talent in the tri-county area, especially in Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Cruz and Monterey. His goal was to try to recruit as many local players as possible to the Otters.
“It was to get a really good community feel for soccer, which I view as a platform for so many kids in this area,” Carew said.
Rebollar said he’ll always reflect on the time when he was with them because of how competitive it is.
“Every game you knew was going to be a battle and there was going to be competition every time,” Rebollar said.
Rebollar said that meant training had to be at a higher level than most clubs. He said there’s nothing but quality coaches who know what they’re doing, which he mentioned got him prepared for his summer’s trip to the East Coast.
Watsonville High alumnus Adrian Rebollar is traveling to Virginia to play with Lionsbridge FC, which is part of the USL2 developmental league. (Contributed by CSU Monterey Bay Athletics)
The biggest struggle for Rebollar, so far, was being able to adjust to the speed of the game and not getting enough playing time.
“After I started getting used to the pace and playing with my teammates, I started getting more minutes and became a starter,” Rebollar said.
Rebollar was the first player Carew signed to the team and expects him to return for a third straight season.
The third-year head coach was already familiar with Rebollar during his time as an assistant coach at San Jose State.
“(Rebollar) just embodies everything that I think you need in a soccer player; character, hard work and discipline,” Carew said. “He wants to be a professional, so that’s why we’re giving him this opportunity to travel out of state and across the country to experience something else.”
Rebollar said if it wasn’t for Carew showing up, the program might not have been as strong. He said even the minor changes make all the difference for the players.
“I think they got more eyes looking at CSU Monterey Bay’s program,” Rebollar said.
Carew had some connections with the coaches from Lionsbridge FC. The league is a mixture of ex-professional players and college players coming out of school.
Carew said a huge percentage of those players go on to play in Major League Soccer.
Rebollar said he’s looking forward to meeting different people and again, getting out of his comfort zone.
“Just being in a new environment and somewhere where I’m not comfortable,” he said.
Rebollar said he wanted emphasize that joining the Santa Cruz Breakers Academy was the turning point in his career and it allowed him a chance to play at the collegiate level.
“It’s pretty simple but the Academy really prepared me to be able to perform well,” he said.
Editor's Note: This article will be published in the May 10 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.