(by Nick Delahanty '15, Intern, Felician College Public Relations)
Recent Felician College graduate Josh Delva (South Orange, N.J./Columbia) has taken his soccer talents to the next level.
Delva was selected to play for the Red Bulls U23 Academy Team of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), a team for college prospects that works with pro clubs during a three-month period from May to July.
The opportunity to try out for the team came from former Felician men's soccer coach Simon Nee, who is the Director of Training and Recruitment for the Red Bulls and head coach for the 23U team.
"Coach Nee reached out to me in early May, letting me know that he wanted me to attend tryouts for the team in the upcoming weeks," said Delva, who graduated in May. "I had to attend three or four tryout sessions that involved former and current Red Bulls Academy players and basically just kept getting called back, making the last cut."
Josh was one of 54 members to make the team, bringing his success from the Felician fields to Harrison N.J., where the Red Bulls home games are played.
The team enjoyed a successful season, posting a 7-2-1 record and eventually falling 2-1 in the semifinals against Greater Binghamton Futbol Club, the first place team in the Keystone Conference.
Starting next week, Delva will play for the Red Bulls' Reserves Team, which plays an extended 13-game season.
With this experience, Delva was able to not only get experience on the professional level, but also show his skills to other clubs in the hopes of signing to a team's professional squad.
"My teammates and myself were exposed to the Red Bulls' Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh, who oversees the entire Red Bulls Program. A teammate of mine was called up about a month ago, so there is always a possibility someone can be called up to play for the professional team," Delva said.
Another way the players are exposed is by playing against some of the best international talent the sport has to offer. At the end of the League season, the Red Bulls 23U team squared off in an international friendly match vs. Chelsea FC, a well-known soccer club team from London.
With this exposure, Delva has been contacted by other clubs about possibly joining them, but is still trying to figure out his future soccer plans. One club that has expressed interest in Josh's services is the NY Cosmos, who Josh has looked into getting a trial session with.
"I just got my highlight tape created, so right now it's about figuring out what I want to do next," said Delva. "A lot of my teammates are going into Division I preseason for their colleges, so I am weighing my options as I send my tape out to interested clubs."
Before arriving to Felician, Delva strived at Columbia High School, where he was an All-County and four-time All-Area selection, as well as receiving honorable-mention for all-state awards.
Delva chose Felician College because he liked how close it was to his home, approximately 30 minutes away, and was blessed with an athletic scholarship that was just too hard to pass up.
In his career at Felician, Delva is believed to be the first ever freshman captain in the program's history, an exciting yet daunting honor.
"Coach [Patrick] Snyder and Coach Nee approached me about the idea towards the end of the preseason, saying they liked what they saw and wanted to give me more responsibility. I didn't want my teammates to respond to that in a negative way, but after I talked to the coaches again and my teammates, everything just fell into place."
Naming Delva captain was a decision the coaching staff would not regret for his four-year tenure at Felician.
Delva was a starter at the center midfield position, earning a selection to the All-CACC Second Team three times. As a senior, Delva started in 16 games, in which he picked up one assist.
Delva proved to be more than just a leader on the field.
He served as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president for two years, working closely with the "Make-A-Wish Foundation" on raising donations and participating in other events to help raise awareness of children's diseases. He also served as the Vice-Chair of the CACC SAAC.
"At Felician, I was able to build up characteristics to help me become a better leader," said Delva. "Every year felt like I took one more step in a leadership role, something I can take with me for the rest of my life."
Delva graduated from Felician with a major in Business Administration and Management, as well as a minor in Peace and Justice.