The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Behind the ball: Isaiah Reid’s journey to Clemson

Maggie Bell, Senior Photographer
Clemson men’s soccer defender Isaiah Reid celebrates with fans after winning the 2021 National Championship.

After winning a National Championship in 2021, Clemson men’s soccer defender Isaiah Reid sat down with The Tiger and gave insight into his journey to Clemson and the impact the University had on him. 

Interview responses are edited for length and clarity.
Madison Stephenson: Where did you grow up, and how were you introduced to soccer?
Reid: I grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I was introduced to soccer by my brother. He is five years older than me, and he started playing soccer at nine years old. So being five years old, I really wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps because I thought he was the best soccer player. At six years old, that’s when I started playing competitive club soccer for Discovery Soccer Club.
MS: Did you always play soccer, or did you play other sports as a child?
IR: I started playing rec ball from two to five, but I started playing competitively at age six. Soccer is the only sport I’ve ever done.
MS: What was the defining moment for you when you knew you loved soccer?
IR: When I turned six, that was when I knew I loved the sport. My parents said I had this God-given talent and love for the game that you don’t see in younger people. Often when you see six- or seven-year-olds, they play for fun, not because they love the game, but at six years old, I knew I loved the game, and that was all I wanted to do.
MS: From that point at six years old, was college soccer always a goal of yours, or was it just a natural progression in the sport?
IR: My goal at six was probably to be pro, play for the U.S. Team, go to the World Cup or stuff like that. Especially growing up, there were players at my club who went on to play at UNC-Chapel Hill and then to sign pro contracts. I looked up to players like Enzo and Alex Martinez, who were from Uruguay and lived in Rock Hill. They won the first national championship from my club soccer team and went on to play college and pro soccer. So, when I was playing in the club as a kid, I looked up to players like that as well as my brother.
MS: Do you believe you had a coach growing up that solidified the qualities in your soccer game and the person you are today?
IR: I would say coach Manfred Makor. He still comes to my games today in college. Whenever we play against NC State or Duke, he lives around that area, so he will always come. He was at the National Championship game. He taught me all the qualities of the fundamentals of being a good soccer player, but he also taught me humility, effort and sacrifice — traits that I will take with me all in my career.
MS: What made you love Clemson and choose to play soccer here?
IR: I have been a Clemson fan pretty much all my life. When I was eight years old, I always loved Clemson. I had a Clemson flag in my room. So, when I went to the soccer camp, I played well and I enjoyed it. I came on a visit shortly after. This is at the end of my freshman year of high school, which was really early to go on a visit. I got offered a spot, and I was like, I’m committing because there is no other place I wanted to go to. It was my love of the college from an early age that made me want to come here.
MS: Have there been any obstacles in your athletic journey that you had to overcome to make you a stronger soccer player? 
IR: I’d say the challenge of a new opportunity and having a new outlook on things. Being at Discovery, I was the big fish in the little pond. Charlotte Soccer Academy, same thing. Coming to Clemson, it’s different. You have international players and pro academy players. You have to be able to be patient and have delayed gratification. You have to stay down until you can come up. Those were qualities I really had to learn.
MS: What has been your favorite memory thus far playing for Clemson?
IR: Winning the National Championship, but also being able to score two goals in the National Championship was a dream come true. Like I said before, Clemson has been my dream school since I was young and being able to be the one who scores the goals in the championship, that’s like stuff you dream of when you’re a little kid.
MS: I know your goals are ever-changing, but what would you say is your biggest goal right now? 
IR: My biggest goal right now is to play pro, but at the same time I just want to give back to the game in some kind of way. Whenever my career ends in terms of playing the game, I want to continue to give back, like I said earlier about continuing to inspire the youth in my area. If my career path has anything to do with that, that would be a huge goal of mine. 
MS: It may be hard to reflect in this present moment, but what do you think will be your biggest takeaway from college soccer?
IR: I would say patience, humility and confidence. The patience to recognize you aren’t going to get everything you want right now and sometimes you might have to sit behind somebody or wait your turn, until you get your opportunity, then you got to take it. Humility, in that you have to be grateful for every opportunity you have. Being at Clemson, we have some of the best facilities and coaches; it doesn’t get better than that. When you’re humble, that means you can be coachable, which allows you to be vulnerable and become a better player and grow. And then confidence, that is so important. I see a lot of players that are so talented, but they lack confidence to be able to do that. Being an athlete is hard, with mental health and all that. So, I found that when those three things come together, when you’re humble, you’re confident and you’re willing to work, good things can happen.
MS: If you had to describe yourself as an athlete, teammate or even a person, what words would you use to describe yourself?
IR: I would say genuine, confident and respectful. I think that people respect me, because I give a lot of respect to other people, and I genuinely care to make relationships with other people. I think that’s one quality a lot of my teammates appreciate about me. I am a confident person. I am confident in my abilities and myself. I am genuine. When I speak to people, I want them to know I am authentic in what I say.
MS: Today, what would you say is the most motivating factor for you to continue to work and to strive for your goals?
IR: I would say the youth in my area. That is one thing I am very proud of, being from Rock Hill. Growing up, I didn’t have as many opportunities as everyone else did in terms of soccer. Just seeing all the youth, seeing how the sport of soccer has grown and being able to inspire so many people, that is what drives me every day. Being able to inspire people and show them a kid from South Carolina can do it, that’s what drives me to keep going.
MS: What would you say to a youth soccer player or any young athlete as a word of advice?
IR: I would say you need to have faith and truly follow your dreams, but you also must put in the work and make sacrifices to be able to fulfill those dreams. No matter where you are, there is always a possibility to make those dreams come true.
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *