Zack De Francis has been the most searched for name on my blog, and has played a big roll in BYU’s success so far this year. Over the last several days, Zack has been kind enough to trade emails with me to create the interview below. Read on to learn a little bit more about BYU’s star striker.
Right now you’re among the statistical leaders in the PDL, despite having played fewer games than the other players. Looking over your roster page at byusoccer.com, it looks like you’re in familiar territory. What do these kinds of individual recognitions mean to you?
Zack Individual recognitions of all kinds have served as motivators in my life. Many times, they serve as milestones. In soccer, I try not to dwell on the fact that I played well for too long. Instead, I feel more motivated to work hard so I can get better and better.
RSL has been known to pick up the occasional BYU player for their reserve squad, would you be interested in doing something like that? What value do experiences like that bring to a player?
Zack First of all, I feel lucky to be part of a program that is connected to a professional organization like RSL. I have been contacted a couple of times to work out and play in reserve games and think it’s a great opportunity. Being in that kind of environment introduces a new level of professionalism and commitment to the game. It’s very exciting. It has also been valueable in bringing me closer to friends I grew up with playing soccer, who are now professionals.
After your last home game, Coach Watkins said that you had velcro on your feet, and were able to create your own chances. What’s your secret?
Zack I feel like there are a couple of things that help me improve consistantly. First, I try to find time to do individual training each week. After evaluating my performance, I try to work on my weaknesses and fine tune the things I already do well. I feel like individual training is equally important to training in a team setting. Secondly, visualization helps me a lot.
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for improvement in your game?
Zack I believe the biggest opportunity for improvement in my game at the moment is getting more shots off, especially from a distance. Getting shots off tests the keeper and keeps the opposing defense honest. It also builds confidence in the entire team when we see scoring chances.
You mentioned evaluating your performance. How do you do that? Do you have video to look at, or are you working from your in-game observations and those of the coaching staff?
Zack Evaluating my performance mostly comes from in-game obeservations. My mind goes over many plays from the game where I made a difference or should have made a difference. The observations include plays where I could have done better and plays where i executed well. My coaches help all of us players recognize areas where we need to improve and spend extra time in training.
Can you walk us through one of your goals this season?
The most recent goal I scored was in Washington against Tacoma. I expected the ball to come to me and it did (in this case it was an excellent pass). At that point, you can sense where the defender, the keeper, and the net is. Then I just hit the ball where the keeper couldn’t get it. It happened without thinking as I had made similar shots in my mind and practiced them hundreds of times before.
The last couple of weeks haven’t gone so well for the team. What do you think the next couple of games (this weekend) hold in store.
Zack The games coming up next week are crucial for us and will most likely set the tone for the remainder of the season. We face two of the best teams in our conference at home and need wins. We will have had two weeks to build confidence in ourselves again and make adjustments to our game. We had our chances to beat both Yakima and Tacoma the first time around, so we are optimistic about our chances at home. Two wins this weekend will require a disciplined effort.
Finally, a non-soccer question. What’s your favorite part of being a student-athlete at BYU?
Zack My favorite part of about being a student athlete at BYU is the unique opportunities that we have in representing the University. We are able to participate in international trips where we play soccer as well as address the local communities. Each team member has the responsibility of speaking to a large group or contributing to the community in some way. I feel like i’m growing in several areas of my life, not just soccer.