It’s one thing to show athletic potential in high school or college, but to make it as a professional requires another level of motivation, skill and sacrifice. So it’s no surprise that only a handful of elite athletes ever manage to go one step further and represent their country.
Among the select few is Zach Reget, a star of the Florida Tropics Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) team. In 2021, the native of Kenosha, Wisconsin was called up to the U.S. Men’s Futsal National team for the 2021 FIFA World Cup — a remarkable feat given that, although there are similarities, indoor soccer and futsal are essentially two different sports.
Reget has always demonstrated skill as a soccer player. In high school, he played baseball and basketball too but decided to focus on ‘the beautiful game’ when he arrived at Trinity International University in Illinois, where he racked up a series of individual accolades during a glittering four-year career.
After college, Reget signed with MASL side St Louis Ambush. He ended the 2018-19 campaign — his first full season — with 22 goals and 10 assists in 24 games and was named the competition’s Rookie of the Year. That earned him a move to the Sunshine State with the Tropics and in 2022 the 27-year-old racked up career-best stats.
During the regular season, he scored 27 goals and contributed 16 assists, guiding the Tropics to the MASL Championship Finals. They fell just short, losing to San Diego Sockers 2-0 in the series. But Reget is widely considered one of the best attackers in the game.
According to coach Clay Roberts, he’s also a born leader. “When you’ve got a player that’s encouraging and pushing the team vocally and then matching it with his play, that’s how you get the captain’s armband put on,” the Tropics supremo said.
But what are the secrets to Reget’s stellar soccer career? Here are five tips to aspiring athletes from the man himself.
1. Hard work
You can have all the skills in the world. But, according to Reget, if you’re not outworking your teammates and your opponents, you won’t end up being the best possible version of yourself.
“Put more work in than the guy ahead of you, by a lot,” he says. “You need to be hungry, and if you’re the guy on the bench, you need to be ten times hungrier than the guy that is playing in front of you. If you’re playing, you need to be hungrier than the guys behind you. If you’re on the bench, go to your coach and find out what areas you need to improve upon. Ask for drills, but don’t nag him. Get the information and then do the work on your own.”
4. Turn up early
It may sound like a small detail, but Reget considers good time-keeping to be an essential part of the professional mindset. And when you combine it with an established routine, you have solid foundations on which to develop your game.
“My pre-game ritual has varied across high school, college and professional soccer,” he says. “But the common denominator is showing up to practices and games early, giving myself the necessary time to prepare my body and mind.
“Since college, I now read my devotional book to calm myself before a game. For an athlete who is not only good but great, they will live by a set routine. My advice to any athlete is to find a routine and stick with it. You can always add more to the routine, but be sure to have one.”
Another great tip for young athletes: it’s never too early to demonstrate professionalism.
“At the elite level, you have to show preparation and professionalism 24/7,” the Tropics star says. “The higher the level you play at, the more wear and tear you have on your body, so nutrition is key. Your body is your income at the professional level, so you need to make sure you’re investing in your body.
“Take the nutrition side way more seriously. You’ll stand out more in high school if you train the way you would in college or in the pro ranks. Very few high school athletes focus on nutrition, so in doing so, you’ll be giving yourself a leg up on your competition.”
4. Maintain perspective
Of course, even as a professional athlete, there’s more to life than your trade. And Reget says that’s important to remember.
“Growing up, I played soccer for the sheer passion of the game. Then I went to a religious college (Trinity International University) and I learned how to look at soccer as a way of worship. I found once I treated it as a way of life, I was able to control the highs and lows of the sport far easier. At the same time, viewing soccer through this religious lens has also helped me realise there is more to life than the sport.”
5. Work on your brand
Finally, it’s important to work on ‘brand you’
“Be sure to brand yourself as an athlete,” Reget says. “The top athletes brand early, even as a freshman in high school. Reach out to coaches as soon as possible. For soccer, the way you stand out is by being a good player and always being proactive.
“Also, be sure that you have a clean social media. If you are about to post and have to ask yourself whether it is clean enough, it probably isn’t. Don’t give an opportunity for a coach not to take you.”