Free State soccer’s Chance recognized

Daniel Chance, a Free State High School junior, comes up with a loose ball Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008 during the Firebirds' home soccer match against Bonner Springs High School.

It’s not difficult for Free State High boys soccer coach Jason Pendleton to describe the many talents of senior Daniel Chance.

“He’s just a kid who gets it at all levels,” Pendleton said. “He’s dynamic. He’s athletic with his footwork. He’s strong so you know he can finish. Defensively, he reads the field better than any player we’ve ever had. As a forward, he’s a danger. His athleticism causes problems for the other team. He’s got the athleticism and the brain to make him the ultimate soccer player for us.”

Pretty high praise.

Someone else also recognized Chance recently.

Chance was selected as one of 36 pool players for the ’92 Region II Olympic Development Program. The Olympic Development Program, or ODP, was created to help identify the top players in each age group throughout the country to form a national team eventually.

“It’s a really great program,” Chance said. “It gives you a better understanding for the game, a better concept of soccer. It takes you to another level.”

Chance, a member of the Kansas ’92 Region II ODP team for the last five years, was selected as a holdover pool player based on his performance during the four-day Region II tournament in Rockford, Ill., this summer. If Chance is selected as one of the approximately 30 players on the regional team, he will have the opportunity to compete in a regional tournament later this year.

“To be identified out of 13 states each sending about 18 players (in Region II), to be selected as one of the top players in the region, it’s a great honor,” said Wisconsin-based Region II program administrator Marshall Murray. “Lots of our pool players go on to play Division I, II, and III in college. It means something to college coaches when players have been a part of the program and have been identified as a member of the regional pool.”

As Chance enters his last season as a Firebird, playing in college is weighing on his mind.

“It looks better on your resume,” Chance said. “Once you have that written down, college coaches see it. It definitely doesn’t hurt to make the holdover team.”

Chance still has one more season left to earn an even bigger name for himself. As a junior, Chance was a major contributor to the Firebirds’ 7-6-5 season. He played three positions: defender, midfielder and forward.

“He’s a multi-faceted player with a drive to get better,” Pendleton said. “He’s been a starter since the first day he walked onto the field as a freshman. But he’s never played like a freshman. Physically, he’s always been years ahead. And mentally he’s very strong. He has the ability to excel in multiple positions.”

Chance had the assist that gave the Firebirds a 1-0 victory over Topeka High in the opening round of regional play last year, and he scored the lone goal in Free State’s 3-1 loss to Washburn Rural in the regional championship.

His 12 goals and five assists earned him a spot on the All-Sunflower League Team, as chosen by league coaches, and first team All-State honors with the most votes at forward.

“I’m hoping to do well again and get those awards again,” he said. “But it’s more about team progress. I thought we should have gone farther last year. But we’ve worked out in the summer a lot more. It’s a team effort, and I’m just trying to keep that going.”

Free State opens its season on Sept. 3 at Bonner Springs.