Boys soccer: Boulder’s Arroll Taekla finds D-I home in spite of COVID-19

Taekla was named to Class 5A’s first team all-state as a junior

Daily Camera file photo
Boulder soccer player Arroll Taekla, right, committed to Coastal Carolina recently despite having his fall prep season delayed to spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If trying to play a high school sport amidst the coronavirus pandemic has been troublesome for student-athletes across the state, getting recruited in one is probably something more than ridiculous.

As the sports narrative goes, however, nothing is impossible.

Last month, Boulder senior Arroll Taekla verbally committed to Division-I Coastal Carolina out of the Sun Belt Conference.

The process exhausting, he maneuvered a recruiting circuit left barren by the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to secure the offer from the United Soccer Coaches’ fifth-ranked program from the fall.

Like him, soccer players looking to get recruited in the current climate have been forced to make do with sparse opportunities to showcase themselves. Most years, players are able travel to camps to connect with interested colleges. They usually can update schools with clips from recent games. Scouts, of course, could attend games.

But in a pandemic, most of that has been moot.

Hardy Kalisher’s talented forward hasn’t been seen on the high school field since fall 2019 when the CHSAA boys’ soccer season last played. He finished with nine goals and 10 assists as the Panthers bowed out to eventual-state champ Broomfield in overtime of the Class 5A semifinals.

Since then, he played a few months of club soccer under social distancing guidelines in the late summer and fall. Mainly, he said he goes to a soccer field by himself, or sometimes with a few friends, and practices in relative solitude.

“Patience was the thing I learned most out of it, and perseverance,” Taekla said. “You have to keep in contact and keep pushing to meet the team …”

He pushed until an opportunity gave way.

At first, Taekla said he hadn’t heard about Coastal Carolina — this shortly before its football program leapt into national attention with an undefeated regular season in 2020.

Taekla’s mom was told about the school from a friend while on a trip. He did some research before emailing the team with his highlight tape. He committed at the campus in early December.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I can remember and these have been my aspirations since I was 5-years-old. To finally see it happening, it’s amazing.”

Kalisher added in an email to about Taekla’s commitment: “He’s worked very hard to reach the next level and it’s not common for Colorado student-athletes to be recruited out of state for NCAA D-I soccer.”

Even less uncommon in a pandemic.

Coastal Carolina’s soccer team has been guided by longtime coach Shaun Docking since 1998. The face of the program has been among the most successful soccer coaches in the country. He became just the 19th coach in D-I to cross the 300-win milestone in 2019.

Taekla said he was also in talks to play college soccer with Fort Lewis, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, St. Thomas (Minn.) and the University of Denver.

The senior hopes to play his final year for Boulder soccer in Season C slated for March 8.