Adams leads wave of Alaska players helping UPSL gain footing
In the past, it was easy to see why so many college soccer players from Alaska stayed in the Lower 48 for the summer in search of a competitive league.
But that all changed when the UPSL came to Alaska.
“This gives them a reason to come back,” said Anchorage’s Greyson Adams, who plays at Colorado School of Mines and this summer laced ‘em up for the Alaska Timbers.
“I was really excited about having a competitive league. Me personally I like to come back, so having a competitive scene was super exciting. I think it’s a great start and I think it can get a lot better.”
Adams, of West High fame, leads a wave of elite players helping the UPSL gain its footing in Alaska.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is a defensive centerpiece for NCAA D2 Colorado School of Mines, where he started 22 games last year as a junior and ranked sixth with 1,990 minutes played.
With Adams anchoring the defense, the Orediggers went 15-4-4 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
With the Alaska Timbers, he played an instrumental role in helping the team go 5-0-1 and win the Last Frontier division.
“It was interesting being the leader on a team with a bunch of younger guys,” Adams said. “I thought it was pretty cool that I was able to share some of my collegiate experience with some of the guys that aren’t quite there yet.”
Adams had planned to play for a different UPSL team in Anchorage, but when that team didn’t happen, he gravitated toward the Timbers because of his ties with coach Jeremy Johnson.
Johnson works alongside technical director Jo Reid and general manager Danny Reynolds. Together, they give the Timbers some of the most recognizable soccer names in Alaska’s largest city.
“I felt like it was a really good environment,” Adams said. “They kind of let the players dictate how things went in practice. I got a lot of say in the formation and talking about certain players going to certain positions and what we did in practice.
“There are some coaches that don’t really take input, they do what they think is right. But a player’s input is very important because we are the ones on the field. We understand the most out of anyone, really.”
The Timbers are joined in the Last Frontier division by the Arctic Rush, Fairbanks SC and Mat-Su United. The Timers, Rush and United were part of Alaska’s inaugural UPSL season in 2019 and Fairbanks joined in 2020. The league will likely expand again in 2021.
“As more players come back, that’s going to increase the level more and more,” Adams said. “It was tough starting out because a lot of these players were coming from team teams and different settings, and didn’t mesh together; but I think the quality can definitely get there.”
The UPSL needs Alaska’s best players to participate in order for the league to be validated.
“I think it’s super important to have name recognition,” Adams said. “If I see one of my friends who is good at soccer playing in this league and I’m on the fence, I’m going to want to play with them or against them. That’s just my competitive nature.”
He also sees the UPSL playing a key role in reviving soccer in Alaska.
“It’s kind of faded a little bit over the last few years, but I think bringing this competitive edge to Alaska really helped us out,” he said. “As it expands more and we get more competition and more positive feedback it will become more popular.”