Ethan Joo signs to play collegiate soccer

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, May 9, 2024

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Springwood held its third signing day of the week on Thursday as Ethan Joo signed to continue playing soccer at Limestone University in South Carolina. 

Joo learned about Limestone and started creating a relationship with the soccer coaches after attending a recruiting camp. Joo did his own research on the school and believed that becoming a Saint was the right decision for him. 

“The school is a really good fit for me,” Joo said. “I’m really excited to study and compete with Division II schools.” 

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Joo is excited to compete at the next level, but he also believes that competing in Division II is just the first step for him. Joo hopes to continue moving forward and excel at different levels. 

Joo’s journey to Springwood and now Limestone has been a winding road. Joo was originally from South Korea before moving to Pennsylvania as a sophomore and eventually transferring to Springwood’s international school for his junior and senior years. 

Joo transferred to Springwood as a junior, but he never actually touched the pitch as a Wildcat. Joo played for UMA FC, a semi-professional soccer club based out of LaGrange, Valley and the surrounding areas. 

UMA’s coach, Andrew Joe, has built a relationship with Springwood’s international school over the past few years. Joe helped Joo find a home at Springwood and has coached him for his last two years of high school. 

“I just saw his potential as a soccer player,” Joe said. “I have pushed him to be able to get better. His attitude is always really good. He’s very coachable [and] very disciplined. He always works hard as a player and as a student.” 

Springwood and UMA FC allowed Joo to fully focus on improving his ability as a player. As a student, Joo had access to Springwood’s weight room. Joo spent every free period either lifting weights on his own workout regime or getting extra practice. 

Those long hours in the weight room and on the field added up. Joo locked down the starting keeper position for UMA during both of his seasons with the team. 

Joe was fundamental in helping Joo improve his craft inside the net. Joe went out of his way to drive Joo to camps two or three hours away. UMA FC’s practices were also as intense as they came, and the competition continually made Joo a better player. 

“He loved to drive me there, and then [talk] about me to their coaches,” Joo said about Joe driving him to soccer camps.

The relationship between Springwood and Joe has been mutually beneficial. Springwood has welcomed several athletes from South Korea and Joe’s club over the past three years. 

Coming to Springwood helped Joo, but he also had to make several adjustments. Moving from South Korea to Pennsylvania was already a huge cultural change, but then Joo had to adjust to southern culture. 

Eventually, Joo became accustomed to the way people talked in Chambers County, and he also fell in love with the cuisine in the United States. 

“The food is really different, but I love the ranch and pizza,” Joo said. “They have different cultures… and it’s always difficult talking with older people in the U.S.… I’m really easy to ask for help, and it’s a really good thing.” 

Joo was known as a model student at Springwood. Although he did not play for the Wildcats, he became a critical member of the Springwood family.