A year ago, Tomi Adewole was sitting at home and enjoying a peaceful summer vacation from college.
For any college student, a little rest and relaxation would be perfectly acceptable, but for an NCAA Division I soccer player it was not ideal.
This summer, however, Adewole’s philosophy has changed. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Villanova University junior is playing organized soccer for Real Maryland FC, a member of the United Soccer Leagues’ Premiere Development League.
“I’m not going to lie, last year I made a mistake,” the 2010 Sherwood High graduate said. “I played a little bit of pick-up soccer and ran some, but other than that, I didn’t do much to get prepared for the fall.”
He didn’t have much time to get ready for his summer team. When he returned home early last month, Adewole immediately hit the road to join the Monarchs for their second game of the season in North Carolina.
“There was no time,” Adewole said. “I got home and had to leave in an hour. It was nice being on the road though for the first month though so I got to know everyone.”
During the spring semester earlier this year, Adewole began exploring his summer playing options. He was aware of the opportunity Real Maryland offered through his friend and Clarksburg graduate, Julio Arjona. At the same time, James H. Blake coach David Edlow emailed Tom Carlin, Adewole’s coach at Villanova.
“I was talking with my mom about finding a place to play competitive soccer over the summer and at the same time, my college coach got an email asking if I wanted to play,” Adewole said. “He was basically like, ‘Make sure you do this and get all your paperwork done.’”
Added Monarchs general manager Dave Noyes: “He’s a good player and has a lot of potential. All the guys on the team are here to get developed so they can improve in college and possibly play professionally.”
This summer, Adewole has contributed to an ever-improving back line for the Monarchs (4-3-2). He’s played in eight games and logged more than 600 minutes with an assist and two shots on goal. On Sunday, he might have played his best game during the Monarchs 5-0 victory against Virginia Beach.
“He showed me a lot,” coach Silvino Gonzalo said. “I had [worried] a little, but he played very well.”
Real Maryland’s defensive unit, like the rest of the team, took several weeks to jell while the club’s players became familiar with each other. But by all accounts, the center back has been at his best when playing alongside youth league teammate and 2010 Northwood graduate Bush Yormie (Cincinnati State). They played together during their high school years for the Potomac Soccer Academy and Montgomery Soccer Club Revolution.
“We go far back,” said Yormie, a 2009 All-Gazette honorable mention selection. Adewole earned first team honors twice (2008 and 2009). “Tomi is a solid player, especially in the air. He wins all the headers.”
Adewole began playing soccer at age 4 for the Lanham Boys and Girls Club in Prince George’s County. His family moved to Bowie before settling in the Olney area. His natural position is on defense, but at Villanova, where he has held a reserve roll, he’s been asked to play on the attack.
“The biggest thing is my confidence is getting built up here,” he said. “It is also easier to stay in shape when you are actually playing games instead of just running.
“The goal is to get more time up at school so I’ll play where I can help my team, but I want to win this thing too. It’s an intense league that a lot of kids from school also play in. I want go back to school and be able to talk to them.”