EXCLUSIVE: 16-year-old Shane Kaemerle's first professional season reflections

Published Jan 19, 2021

Written by: Pronit Dutta

EXCLUSIVE: 16-Year-Old Shane Kaemerle's reflections on his first professional soccer season

Twelve month ago Cal United Strikers FC signed a 15-year-old Shane Kaemerle. In an unprecendented 2020, the club has had to deal with a stop-start season due to COVID-19, making Shane's first year as a professional player unique, to say the least.


Shane is a Strikers FC Irvine academy graduate. He primarily plays left wing, but is comfortable across the front line. He's humble, unassuming, but you can see he genuinely loves playing soccer, the sort of excitement for the game many of us had growing up. He's living his dream - playing professional soccer in his own backyard in Orange County. We sat down with him to reflect on first his professional soccer season, scoring against the world famous New York Cosmos, and what he wants in the next steps of his career. 


Shane practicing with Cal United Strikers during pre-season in January

Q: How’d you learn about Cal United Strikers FC?

Shane: I played out of the youth club Irvine Strikers (Strikers FC Irvine). My coach was Don Ebert and he was also the coach of Cal United so I became aware of the club through him. Some of the [Cal United Strikers] players came and helped out at the club so it helped become familiar [with Cal United Strikers].

Q: When’d you learn the club was interested in signing you?

Shane: I was playing on the youth team and just finished one of my seasons in academy [formerly the Developmental Academy]. Coach Don invited me out to training and when I started doing that, I knew I wanted to be there full-time. It just seemed like the right step I needed to take in my career.


Q: How long did it take for the official offer to come in?


Shane: I think it was about six months after training [with the Cal United Strikers team] that the talks started, but it was definitely a long process before I signed the contract.


Q: Throughout that process, did you consider going the collegiate route instead of signing pro?

Shane: I definitely wanted to sign pro myself, but I had to consider other things and talk with my parents. My parents might’ve had other views than me, but I think signing pro this young was definitely the right move for me.

Q: What was it like making the jump from the youth academy to the pro level?

Shane: When I first started coming out [to training], the things I noticed were the speed of play, how fast everyone was, and how strong everyone was. It’s just such a big, big difference compared to playing even at the highest youth academies. It’s definitely a big step up. 



From Left to Right: Shane with his teammates at Championship Stadium, Shane scoring a goal for Strikers FC - Irvine

Q: Was it intimidating going from training with 15,16 year olds to 25, 30 year olds?

Shane: Yeah, it was intimidating at first, but I think I settled in pretty quickly. The guys, also, made me feel very welcome. It definitely helped having familiar faces [other Strikers FC youth players] and it definitely helped knowing all the coaches. But it’s different having guys you aren’t used to training with.

Q: How’d you decide you wanted to become a professional soccer player?

Shane: I think ever since I knew what soccer was I wanted to become a pro soccer player. Growing up in the house with my brother, who played soccer, and my dad, who also played soccer, influenced my decision in wanting to be pro. But yeah, ever since I started playing it was my goal.



Shane and family

Q: Was there an age where you realized that you had the potential to reach your goal?

Shane: I never really thought of it like that. I always try to do my best on the field. I definitely had moments where I felt I did pretty well. I knew I could go pro if I worked really hard, it just feels amazing having done it so young.

Q: First season wrapped up - what did you feel like you learn after reflecting on your first professional season?

Shane: First year of being pro I learned a lot of new things - the commitment, the dedication, all the work you have to put in. Also, there’s a lot of sacrifices that come with that - me being 16, still in high school, I had to sacrifice some of my youth years, seeing all my friends and stuff, but it’s all worth it cause I just love playing [soccer]. 

Q: So how are you managing your education while juggling (no pun intended) your soccer commitments?

Shane: As of right now, I’m doing online school. So I’ll usually go to practice, come back, do school work for a few hours… I’ve been trying to stay on top of it, but it’s been pretty challenging. 

Q: So your first season collided with a global pandemic, how challenging has that been for you to adapt as a player and outside of soccer, as well?

Shane: It’s definitely been challenging - not being able to practice everyday, having some long breaks when we’re in the lockdown. I’ve been training as much as I can, even if I have to stay indoors. In quarantine, I tried to get myself stronger. I’ve been doing some bodyweight exercises and I think that’s helped me a lot.


Shane's debut vs Michigan Stars in Feb 2020

Q: So what are your goals you’ve set for yourself over the next 5-10 years?

Shane: I think I’ve set a lot of goals for myself, but one of the things that I want to do is to get to Europe and play for a team over there. That’s definitely my biggest goal. I still have a lot of goals left with Cal United Strikers when I’m here. I just want to play my best for the team and help them win anything we can when next season starts. Hopefully [next season], I can be a solid player on the team and get some goals and assists. [Cal United Strikers] have done so much for me and they’ve given me such a great opportunity at a young age, so I want to make sure I do anything I can to help them out. 

Q: Who were your role models growing up?

Shane: Definitely my dad. He’s the one that taught me the game when I was younger and made me fall in love with it. Obviously, he’s taught me a lot outside of it, too.


Q: What advice do you have for other youth players with professional aspirations?


Shane: Just keep working hard. All the hard work doesn’t just go unnoticed. Even when no one’s watching, all the hard work you put in will be noticed at some point. Have fun, work hard, and just take risks while you’re on the will all pay off.