Soccer players invited to join RailHawks Academy

Two WF players join team full time while two others participate in practice while still playing for school

Senior Connor Cochrane grabs a Warrior shot.

Gus Holub, Sports Editor

Four standout Wake Forest soccer players have recently been given the opportunity to play with the prestigious Capital Area RailHawks Development Academy soccer team.

Seniors Dylan Chain, Josh Coan, Connor Cochrane and Zach Engel started playing with the team in August after trials and team selections were made.

Cochrane and Engel were not selected for the official team roster, but they were asked to practice with the team while also maintaining a starting spot on our high school team.

The players say they enjoy the new challenge.

“The level is much higher than high school, particularly this team. All the players are really good, most are going to play D1 in college,” Cochrane said.

For Cochrane the training does more than benefit his growth as a player.

“The intensity of the trainings and every drill is harder and faster. I try to bring that to the high school practices I’m able to go to, to help the high school team grow and get better,” Cochrane said.

Full time academy team members Coan and Chain have benefited in many aspects from being a part of the team.

“They have helped me with recruitment process, talking to different colleges. They have helped prepare me for the next level,” Coan said.

Chain says that after rigorous practices and game experiences, he believes playing for the academy has made him a “much better player.”

Engel also notes the difference between the two practices.

“The level of play is much higher, the intensity is much higher, the overall work grain is higher. Everything is a lot more intense than high school,” Engel said.

The four students practice Monday through Friday at the WRAL soccer complex. Cochrane and Engel participate as much as they can without interfering with their high school schedules. Coan and Chain both enjoy having two of their classmates join them at practice.

“They fit in the environment and play at the same level that the rest of the team does,” Coan said.

WF coach Michael Atkinson allows the two players to practice with the academy team instead of with the school.

Cochrane said, “I go to those instead of high school because they are at the same time and those practices help me more, and coach knows that I am going to get more out of that environment in terms of improving and being as sharp as I can be.”