ATL UTD 2 midfielder Daniel Steedman was two penalty kicks away from being a National Champion at the University of Virginia. Luckily for Atlanta, those two penalty kicks helped Steedman realized he was ready for the next level, so he left early and signed a contract with ATL UTD 2.
“I felt like getting to the NCAA final, we lost in penalties, and other than winning the penalties, there wasn’t much further to go,” Steedman reminisced. “And Atlanta was the best next step I could go to after college. Taking that step early gives me a better chance in the future.”
In coming to Atlanta, Steedman has found camaraderie with not only his teammates but also his coach. Head Coach Stephen Glass and Steedman have more than just soccer in common, both were born in Scotland. Although Steedman and his family moved to America when he was five months old, he still has family in Scotland and felt an instant connection with the gaffer.
“I love all the guys on the team already, and we’ve only been together for a short amount of time. The coaches and I are really good, we all joke around together,” Steedman acknowledged. “Glassy and I get along really well. Him being from Scotland, I know his sense of humor so that makes it easy for us to get along.”
Despite his connection with Glassy and the team, the transition to the professional level didn’t come without its challenges. Even the level of expectations during practices took some getting used to.
“I think the biggest difference, especially with Glassy as a coach, is he never gives you a moment to rest. Every practice session, even if it’s a smaller one, he makes you feel like it’s worth it,” Steedman explained. “There’s no session where you’re relaxed at the end. Every day you’re getting something good out of it, and he’s very strict about the small things. Trying to make it perfect every time, there’s no exceptions which I really like. In the end that’s what is going to make you a better player.”
As he adjusts to the level of play in Atlanta, Steedman is grateful that his family is still close. Knowing his parents are only a short drive away in North Carolina has helped his transition and his mental health, especially during quarantine.
“If I was on the other side of the country, it would be a lot harder to handle it mentally. But my family’s already come to visit me, and I’ve had some friends come up,” Steedman revealed. “It makes it easier to be away knowing everyone’s so close. If you need something bad enough then people are close enough to help, especially during this quarantine being close enough to go home and see my family.”
Soccer has been such a big part of not only his life, but his entire family’s that he doesn’t know what he would be doing without it. In fact, some of his earliest memories revolve around soccer and family.
“Soccer just runs in my family. My grandfather used to own his own pro team and help with the Scottish national team,” Steedman continued. “My family built a youth soccer club in North Carolina. I’ve been playing soccer since I could walk.”
For Steedman, soccer means family. He felt that same sense of community in Atlanta. That feeling and the facilities made his decision to sign with Atlanta an easy one.
“I had contact with Atlanta before I went to college and after last season, I had a really good season and they contacted me,” Steedman elaborated. “I’d been to the Atlanta facility when I was younger to play the Academy team. They have an amazing facility and all the coaches seemed really good.”
During quarantine, the coaches used Zoom workouts, trivia nights and wellness checks to keep that sense of community alive. Now that the USL has announced their decision to resume the 2020 season, Steedman plans to turn that camaraderie into a winning season. With the help of Glassy and his teammates, Steedman is sure those two PKs won’t haunt him any longer.