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Eight years later, Auston Trusty returns to talk to YSC Academy grads



Eight years after finishing high school, Auston Trusty was back at YSC Academy on Friday addressing the 19 graduates of the private school affiliated with the Philadelphia Union Academy in the first commencement ceremony held in its new location on the Chester waterfront.

“I remember sitting exactly in your seat, filled with excitement, anticipation and a lot of nervousness about what’s going to happen in the future,” Trusty said during his address to the school’s class of 2024, which centered around the topics of trust, adversity and connection. “When I was younger no one picked me to be the one to succeed. I wasn’t a standout player for a period of time and I wasn’t a star player everyone had their eyes on but I trusted in my process, I trusted in my ability and worked tirelessly day in and day out to make it happen.”

Trusty made 32 appearances in the English Premier League last season in his first season with Sheffield United. The 25-year-0ld from Media came through the Philadelphia Union Academy to the first team and played with the Colorado Rapids before signing with Arsenal FC, going to England and spending the 2022-23 season with Birmingham City in the English Championship.

“I faced adversity in many stages of my career like being moments away from being cut from this very academy to being one of the first homegrowns at age 17 for the Unio,” Trusty said. “I arrived at the Colorado Rapids and barely playing that year to the following season being signed by Arsenal to playing 32 games in the Premier League this past season and I’m still not a consistent call-up to the U.S. National Team. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but no matter what I will trust in myself.”

Trusty’s return to YSC isn’t just for a one-time event. He also recently joined the school’s board and like many of his fellow grads remains connected to the school and to fellow grads who have found success in a wide range of fields not just limited to soccer.

“We know you will succeed, whether it’s soccer, conventional education, business, entrepreneurship or another path,” Trusty said. “From the graduates in my class I have friends who are professional soccer players, artists, podcasters, media personalities, coders and much more.”

The 2024 class includes 19 graduates. David Vazquez and Andrew Rick are both on first team contracts while Sal Olivas is on an MLS Next Pro contract. Other Union II regulars in the class include Frankie Westfield (Penn State), Alex Perez (Virginia Tech) and Eddy Davis. Vazquez, LAFC midfielder Bajung Darboe and Cadiz CF winger Francis Costillo all shared video messages during the ceremony. Devon DeCorte was back home on a break from RSC Anderlecht and Sebastian Brandt is heading to Spain to attend IE University.

“YSC is a very self oriented school, meaning you get what you put into it,” said Luke Zielinski, who is heading to Columbia University. “Through a shift in attitude I understood the value of the environment I was in, I understood the success of my predecessors and finally I understood the foundation that YSC was built upon: community. The richness and solidified bonds between the students and teachers gave me shared experiences and like-minded goals. In other words, the relationships one makes at YSC pushes you to be better and allowed me to have three of the most enjoyable years of my life.”

In addition to Westfield, Perez and Ziellinski, seven others are going or have already gone the traditional college route: John Andrus (Rutgers), Mohamed Ali Diallo (Drexel), Jonathan Evans (Penn State), Daniel Krueger (enrolled in Wake Forest in January), Jordan Lawrence (Loyola Maryland), Matthew Routzahn (Arcadia) and Ritter Sundby (Xavier). Antonios Horozoglou plans to pursue a career.

“Our development project here, there’s no question the school is the biggest differentiator,” said Jon Scheer, Philadelphia Union Director of Academy and Professional Development, one of several staff members and coaches in attendance. “When we develop players we are developing holistic people – student athletes – so the fact we can align our education with Nooha (Ahmed-Lee, head of school) and our staff and be innovative with our approach, it matches our sporting strategy. But also just to see the kids, how much they’ve grown and developed as people is really rewarding.”


Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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