Creighton senior defender Younes Boudadi was 7 years old when his parents started driving him an hour each way to a soccer academy in his home country of Belgium.
They’d pick him up from school and he’d do his homework in the car. Then he’d practice his skills. That was the routine for five years.
Boudadi eventually enrolled in a nearby boarding school. He moved in with a host family at age 16. He and his family sacrificed and worked for the exact opportunity he’s enjoyed for the past few years: playing soccer at a school like Creighton (he spent two seasons at Boston College, as well).
“Props to my parents,” Boudadi said. “It gave me the platform to come to the States. I’m really grateful they did that when I was so young. It’s something you don’t take for granted.”
It’s hard not to reminisce in that way around this time of year.
The Jays will play their final regular-season home game against Butler (9-5-1, 3-3-1 Big East) Saturday at Morrison Stadium. Boudadi and eight other players will be recognized as part of CU’s Senior Day celebration.
It’ll be emotional, certainly. But Creighton’s vets will have to do their best to maintain their focus.
The Jays (7-6-1, 3-4-0) are in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Big East. Only six squads can earn a spot in the league tournament. Someone’s going to get left out. And after the Butler game, CU will have to finish the regular season with a road trip at No. 3 Georgetown.
The Jays, who have lost four of their last five matches, have to figure out how to finish strong. Boudadi hopes he and the rest of the experienced players can set the tone.
“It’s up to us older guys to really push,” he said. “But we can go up again and bounce back or we can drop into a negativity hole that ends your season.”