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RISING STAR: Ryan Kawulok
by Joe Addison, August 13th, 2008 10:30AM
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Ryan Kawulok won three state titles with the Colorado Storm before joining the Colorado Rapids academy program, who opened in 2007. He is headed to the University of Portland.

Birthdate: Dec, 29, 1989.
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colo.
Youth Club: U-18 Colorado Rapids. Before I joined the Rapids Development Academy, I played for the Colorado Storm.
High School: Rocky Mountain High School
Position: I'm a centerback, although I sometimes play in the center of midfield.
College Plans: I'll be a freshman at the University of Portland in the fall. On my official visit, I met the team and they are a great group of guys. I'm really looking forward to playing for Coach [Bill] Irwin. He coached the Region IV team I played for, and I'm excited about playing for him again. I'm also thankful for the Rapids Development Academy because I really think it helped prepare me for college soccer. We had good competition week in week out and the whole organization is run extremely well.
First soccer memory: I scored five goals in one of my first recreational games.
Strengths: My size definitely helps me out, and I'm strong on the ball. I have pretty good vision and understanding of the game. But more importantly, I'm hard working. I know there's always another level for me to reach.
Weaknesses: I need to work on my left foot and sometimes I let my competitive side get the better of me.
Highlight: Colorado is a very competitive state and our club wasn't as big as some of the others, so winning the state championship three times in a row with the Storm was a huge accomplishment.
Lowlight: I've been fortunate that I haven't had too many lowlights so far.
Memorable advice: My Mom has always told me to never give up, that there's another opportunity out there. She also taught me to believe in myself and to go into things with self-confidence.
Who do you play like? Andrea Pirlo. I like watching him because he's so smooth on the ball and never afraid to get it. He's got great vision on the field.
Other Sports: I played basketball until my sophomore year in high school. I miss it a little.
Academic Interests: Business interests me. I'd like to have a career as a professional soccer player, but after that, I'd like to go into something in the business field.
Volunteering: I volunteer at the Children's Hospital in Denver. I really enjoy spending time with the kids. I also enjoy volunteering at youth soccer camps.
Role Models: My grandparents. They emigrated from Poland. They came over here with nothing and made a life for themselves. I really look up to them and all the hard work they've put in over the years.
Favorite teams: Arsenal and the U.S.
Favorite player: Lionel Messi. I think it's incredible that he's so young but dominates every game he plays in.
Favorite TV Shows: "SportsCenter"
Favorite Movie: Superbad
Favorite Book: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Favorite Song: Rihanna's "Please don't Stop the Music"
Best memory on the soccer field: Everything kind of came together in our last Rapids' game. I'd been playing with a lot of the guys since I was really young, and we put in a great team performance and won 4-1. It was a great for all of us.

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