Tristan Blackmon didn’t see a lot of competition in the sport growing up in Las Vegas, but he made the best of it and went on to become 2017 West Coast Conference Defender of the Year as as senior at University of the Pacific.
Pro Soccer USA sat down with Blackmon to talk about life in the City of Lights and how he plans to make the best out of the 2018 MLS Player Combine in Orlando
Question: What was it like growing up in Las Vegas?
Answer: Of course there’s the strip and what’s it’s known for, but I lived in the outskirts. It was great growing up there, there’s a cool soccer community. It’s tough because there isn’t a lot of competition there, but you make the best of it. Luckily my club team was good, and we competed at the national level.
Q: You mentioned there wasn’t a lot of competition growing up, so how did you get introduced to the sport?
A: My mom played, and she played in what’s called the Rainbow League – it’s a recreational league. So I played in a rec league for a few years, then I got into a competitive team called Las Vegas Premier. That’s how I got seen by the competitive coaches. From there I went from competitive soccer to high school and eventually college soccer.
Q: Soccer in Las Vegas is growing, especially with new USL club Las Vegas Lights FC. What was your first reaction when you heard about the expansion team?
A: It’s great for the city. I obviously want them to go to MLS, but having a team at home is great. I know so many people are hyped about it. It’s cool to have a professional team there, it only brings the people together.
Q: How was playing college soccer at Pacific?
A: I developed so much as a player there. I ended up going there as a forward. My freshman year I did pretty well. My sophomore year I got put out wide as a winger. Then my junior year, my coaches came to me and said I would progress better as a right back. It eventually panned out and [I] have been playing that position for the last year and a half.
Q: What are you focused on at the MLS Player Combine?
A: I just have to focus on defending and going forward and being a threat – but going at the right time – make smart decisions for my team, support the defense. Overall fine-tuning some things.
Q: How often do you pay attention to mock drafts?
A: I try not to. Everybody looks at them. It’s cool that people notice the player that you are, but at the end of the day you don’t know anything until your name is called. I don’t focus that much, I know what I’m capable of. I’m just focused on what I’m doing.