By David Fong
TROY — Jake Diffenderfer-Gabbard talked to college soccer coaches.
He talked to college players.
He visited several campuses and saw each one’s soccer fields and facilities.
In the end, though, none of those things were the ultimate deciding factor for the Troy High School senior when it came time to select which college he would attend.
“I picked Defiance (College) because they offer the best criminal justice program around,” Diffenderfer-Gabbard said. “They’ve got the most hands-on program. I’m going there for an education. I’ll have the opportunity to play soccer, but getting an education was the No. 1 thing for me.
“At Defiance, there are only 20 kids in a classroom, so it won’t be like I’m sitting in a lecture hall with 500 other kids. That was important to me.”
Through family and friends Diffenderfer-Gabbard certainly has had ample opportunities to see numerous occupations associated with the criminal justice system.
“My girlfriend’s dad is a probation officer, by mom’s best friend is a probation officer, my grandpa was a sheriff and my grandma was a judge,” he said. “I think I’d like to be a probation officer, but I’ll see what happens once start taking classes. There’s lots of different things I could do.”
Which isn’t to say soccer wasn’t part of the equation when it came to selecting Defiance. Diffenderfer-Gabbard capped off his career at Troy last fall by earning first-team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division honors. He was second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and four assists.
As a junior, he led the team in scoring with 10 goals and six assists, good enough for second-team All-GWOC North honors. He could play either in the midfield or at wing at the next level.
“I really liked their coach,” Diffenderfer-Gabbard said of the Defiance soccer program. “Their coach took a lot of time in recruiting me. He watched all my videos, he called (Troy) Coach (Richard) Phillips and he called me. He made me feel important to the team. He put in a lot of time recruiting me, which meant a lot to me.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong