FRIDAY, DEC. 21: Shayne Hollis’ hopes of a professional soccer career are alive and kicking after he was selected to attend the United Soccer League draft combine.
The 23-year-old Bermuda international, from Bailey’s Bay, earned one of just four Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s spots after a superb season for Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia.
The left-winger will take part in trial games on January 25-27 in front of an army of scouts from the United Soccer League, Major League Soccer and Europe.
And Hollis — who began his career with Hamilton Parish and also played for Bermuda Hogges in USL — says he’s primed for the opportunity.
He told the Bermuda Sun: “I’ve got a chance, it’s a big opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m not nervous, just really excited to get the opportunity. I’m used to that sort of pressure, I’ve been in this sort of environment before.
“My ambition is to play professionally. That’s the dream.
“I hope this is a stepping stone to getting the chance of playing at a higher level.
“There‘s going to be a lot of scouts from USL, MLS and Europe so it’s a big chance for me.”
He added: “I was kind of shocked I got picked [for the draft] when the coach told me.
“It got to the end of the season and I didn’t even think about — I thought the players had already been picked.”
The draft combine is a golden chance to impress for Hollis as he bids to join the likes of Bermuda’s Reggie Lambe, Freddy Hall (both of Toronto FC) and Nahki Wells (Bradford City) in carving out a professional career.
Wells, instrumental in City’s recent high-profile win over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup, is the current leading light for Bermuda soccer.
Hollis said: “He should be the inspiration for everyone right now.”
Hollis, a student on the Community Studies programme at CBU, gained the draft place after a superb season in which he played an integral part in guiding the University to their Conference title before winning the national silver medal in Quebec, where they were beaten 1-0 by British Columbia. It was the best result in CBU’s history.
Hollis said: “We had a rocky start. We lost our first three games in a row but got it back and went unbeaten for eight games.”
Hollis joins fellow CBU player Jason Massie in the draft and head coach Robbie Chiasson heaped praise on the pair.
He said: “Both Shayne and Jason are players who work hard on their game every day. It is very rewarding for our guys to have this opportunity to play at the next level after they have completed their playing days at CBU.”
CBU director of athletics John Ryan said: “This is a tribute to the time, effort and hard work these student-athletes put into their sport.
“We have seen their success at the AUS and CIS level and we wish them the best as they look to make this step up to the next level.”