A Lifelong Passion

Michael Riley is a soccer prodigy and a driven scholar.

Soccer has been in Michael Riley’s life for as long as he can remember. “When I was 18 months old, my parents would take my older brother and me down to the basement and move our feet along the floor, kicking soccer balls around,” says Riley, a senior at Wayzata High School.

He plays amateur soccer at a national level through the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a group that has a reputation for launching professional soccer careers. Riley says his mother infused the lives of her sons with her own passion for soccer.

Until high school, Riley played with the Minnesota Thunder Academy. In Year 13, his team went national to play in the National Premier League.

Once Riley got to high school, he had the opportunity to join the U.S. Soccer Development academy. They have teams across five age groups between ages 12 and 18. Teams in the Academy play year round, which prevents Riley from playing soccer for Wayzata. He is one of two high schoolers from Wayzata High to have entered the USSDA since they opened up the program to high school students. “My team is very diverse, with a lot of great talent. We enjoy a high level of play on the field,” he says.

With all the time Riley spends playing soccer, he spends most of his remaining hours on school. “A professional soccer career is definitely a dream of mine,” says Riley, “but I’m excited about Loyola University’s business program.” He accepted a scholarship to Loyola University in Chicago and sees it as an opportunity to play soccer and start a career in marketing. “But who knows, things may change,” he says.