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Louisville's Schmitt Continuing Family PDL Legacy

11/02/2017, 11:45am EDT

Like his brother before him, Tate Schmitt has been a boon to FC Tucson and to Louisville

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From the minute Tate Schmitt stepped on the field for the Louisville, it was clear the young forward would be a force for years to come up top for the Cardinals. After a prolific youth career that included three state titles with his club team CCV Stars and a state finals appearance with his school team at Desert Vista High School, Schmitt was a high-profile commitment for the Cardinals and has not disappointed over his first three years with the team.

In his freshman season, Schmitt saw the field often and made the most of his opportunities, as he scored seven goals, including four game-winners, and recorded four assists in his debut season. He elevated that success in his sophomore year, starting 22 matches for the Cardinals and recording five goals and two assists while guiding the team to an NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals appearance, their first appearance in the tournament since 2014 and first run that deep since 2012. His junior season has lived up to expectations so far, as Schmitt has scored a team-leading seven goals and assisted another three and the team finished the regular season with an impressive 11-2-3 record, including 5-2-1 in the brutal ACC.

While his contributions have clearly been a leading factor in Louisville’s success, Schmitt is effusive with his praise for the way his teammates and coaches enable him to be successful as an individual.

“The teammates around me are the biggest reason for my success,” Schmitt told “We are fortunate to have such a talented team and our coaching staff to guide us in the direction that is best for our team. We put in the work at trainings and prepare ourselves to be the best we can possibly be come game day. Everyone has a role on our team and knowing that each one us gets their job done, it gives confidence to the ones around to do our best. That’s one of the reasons I've been able to contribute to our team success knowing the hard work everyone else next to me is putting in.“

Photo by Louisville Athletics

In particular, Schmitt points to the Cardinals head coach, Ken Lolla, as a major factor in his personal development. Lolla himself was a major ACC talent, as the Duke product was a three-time all-conference selection and one-time all-American. He would go on to play professionally for several clubs in the 1980s before settling in as a collegiate coach, first at Belmont Abbey College for several years and for the Akron Zips for 12 years, before finally arriving at Louisville in 2006.

Lolla’s appointment has been a blessing for the Cardinals, guiding the team to eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including four quarterfinals showings, and one runner-up finish in 2010. The team also claimed Big East titles in 2009, 2010, and 2011, before it switched to the American Athletic Conference and captured the title in 2013 as well. The benefits of his hiring have clearly transferred onto his players, as his impact has molded players like Schmitt into future professional athletes.

“He's always encouraging and motivating us to be the best we can be,” said Schmitt. “With all the work the coaching staff puts in to help us be prepared for each opponent we play, we never feel unprepared and know exactly what we need to do to get the win. Personally, he's always telling me to make sure I'm talking and leading the team to be the best we can be.”

Photo by Louisville Athletics

Though his coach and his teammates have been integral to his development and continued success at Louisville, Schmitt turns to family when asked about his soccer influences. It isn’t difficult to understand why as Schmitt has an impressive heritage and connection to the game through his parents and brothers.

His father, Gil Schmitt, was a professional racquetball player, who held a national championship in the sport for his age group, providing a clear athletic foundation for Schmitt to utilize. His brothers also took advantage of their athletic inheritance, as Andrew Schmitt played collegiate ball at Fort Lewis College, while Reid Schmitt competed in the PDL himself, spending 2012 with FC Tucson before debuting professionally with the former USL club Phoenix FC.

“My two older brothers are my biggest influences on my development as a soccer player,” Schmitt said. “Growing up, I wanted to be just like them and chase the dream of becoming a professional soccer player just like they did. They still watch all my games and continue to help coach me to become a better player.”

Photo by Louisville Athletics

Schmitt chose to continue that family legacy, dedicating himself to soccer in his local Phoenix, AZ community, and followed his brother Reid’s footsteps into the PDL. Schmitt has spent the past two summers with Reid’s former team, FC Tucson, creating a family legacy with their local PDL club. The relationship has been a boon to both Schmitt and the team, as he’s lead FC Tucson to two very successful seasons while developing his talents further to bring back to Louisville the following fall in his sophomore and junior years.

In the 2016 PDL season, Schmitt appeared in all 14 matches for Tucson, recording six goals and four assists as the team would post an 11-1-2 record and seize the Southwest Division crown. That success would be repeated in 2017, as Schmitt returned to Tucson and lead the team to another division crown, this time in the Mountain Division, with a 9-2-3 record and four goals and two assists in 11 appearances.

“The PDL gives college players the opportunity to continue their development during the summer,” Schmitt said. “Without the PDL, I feel there is a huge three-month gap where players wouldn't been able to continue their growth at a very competitive level right before the important college season.”

“It prepared me well,” he continued. “PDL gave me the opportunity to continue playing at a very high level and to stay in shape during the summer. It also provides another season to make your mark and have other teams and coaches have the opportunity to watch you.”

Photo by Louisville Athletics

Like his brother, Schmitt has gathered treasured memories of his time in the PDL as he pushed forward towards a professional career. While his talents have pushed him to the No. 6 spot on the final PDL Top Prospects list of the 2017 season, and to the No. 2 spot among juniors this collegiate season, it’s the time with his teammates and successful nights at FC Tucson’s Kino Sports Complex that Schmitt marks as his fondest moments.

“My favorite memories are being with the guys training in 100-degree heat and just competing with other top college players,” Schmitt said. “Also playing and scoring in the July 3rd game [against Albuquerque Sol FC] at Kino Sports Complex.”

Photo by Louisville Athletics

Given his family's success in the league and personal fondness for FC Tucson, it’s unsurprising that Schmitt is a big proponent of what the PDL offers college players. In fact, he believes it even extends to high-schoolers, who have also made their impact felt in the summers prior to their freshman seasons.

“I would certainly recommend PDL to other collegiate player or high schoolers,” said Schmitt. “They have a great setup with their league. They’re professional with how they handle the continued growth for players and it’s a very competitive environment to help you get to the next level.”

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