Peter Pearson is an American soccer player currently signed to the Oakland Roots SC of the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA). Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Pearson had a very successful youth career. The crafty midfielder then went on to attend the University of Virginia. After two years with the Cavaliers, Pearson transferred to VCU. While in college, Pearson also played in the PDL (now USL League 2) for the Fresno Fuego and Des Moines Menace. The Virginia native then went on to sign his first professional contract with South Georgia Tormenta FC of the newly formed USL League One. After a season in Georgia Perason then signed with one of American soccer's hottest clubs, the Oakland Roots. The quick and powerful midfielder has tons of talent and tons of flair, combined with a humble and respectfil personality, Peter Pearson is a true professional.
Peter Pearson Interview
1. Growing up in Virginia, what was your youth career like?
My youth career started first on a military base because of my dad being a Marine but then was quickly switched over to Norfolk football club. That’s where it all started and that is where I became noticed by other clubs within the area. At the time, the clubs were ACN (Norfolk club but more advanced), Rush, and lastly Beach fc. I played with them for a couple of years and started to develop more and more. After several years with Norfolk club, I transferred over because a coach from Beach Fc saw something in me at a very young age. I started playing for that Coach at Beach fc at the age of 6-7 years old and when I turned 8 which was the age they allowed me to start playing for the clubs top premier team. I got the chance to play on the u10s which was nerve wracking at the time. However, the Coach that brought me in at such a young age gave me the confidence to be free and a leader on the pitch as well as off. After my first year with Beach fc, I started to create a name for myself. I stayed with Beach fc all the way through until I left for college. I captained all my teams and it gave me the platform to show my talents to the whole state of VA. It then pushed me to strive for more and provided me the opportunity to take part in the Olympic Development Program (ODP). The ODP program at the time was something special to be a part of because it allowed you to play in front of top coaches from all over the world. I also took part in that at the age of 12 years old all the way up to college. It allowed me to play for the state team, the regional team, and the national team. The ODP system provided so many great paths for me to play overseas, to be looked at by the national team and to get seen by top colleges within the US. After playing for the ODP team all over the country/world. It then came to the end of my ODP career. The next step was heading to college. Along the way, I was offered to play for DC United's academy program my junior year in high school but it was too much of a drastic change due to outside factors. In the end, I stayed in Virginia Beach where I finished my high school/ Beach fc career at the top and ended up signing to the University of Virginia.
2. In high school, you were named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Virginia twice. What does that award mean to you?
Being named the Gatorade player of the year was such an honor. It meant a lot to me because I have lived here all my life and pushed myself to play at every level I could within the state of VA and to be the best version of myself. I gave so much on and off the field that a lot of people don’t know about and it just felt right when I received this award. It wasn’t just an accomplishment for me but the individuals that helped make me the player and person I am today. That reward is much more than just being a soccer player but also a great person. I took that to heart and it was breathtaking for me.
3. Coming out of high school, you attended the University of Virginia. How was the transition from high school to college?
The transition from high school to college educationally was pretty easy for me, to be honest. I know y’all are probably thinking like “what the heck” but the way I was raised prepared me for that moment. The school I went to Cape Henry Collegiate also played an extreme role in preparing me for UVA. It was a college prep school in my eyes, actually in most people's eyes it was known as that. I was raised to be disciplined, organized, respectful and among other aspects. Which in this case, made the transition smooth for me. I also went to UVA a little early for summer school to make the transition a bit easier. It helped us be more acclimated to the college schedule as well as training schedule. It taught us a number of important qualities looking forward to our first semester as student-athletes. Again, for me the transition was easy for me when it came to school but as for soccer it was a bit harder. It ran more like a business and more cut throat. I wasn’t ready for that in the beginning as well as the tactical part of the game. In this all happening, I had to become strong mentally and grow thick skin. What ended up making it easier was that I had great leaders on the team that pushed me everyday to stay the course no matter what happened. It still took time but I found myself in this long process. Another factor that I kinda mentioned earlier within this transition is learning how to be a college student-athlete. It is very different from high school because you are on your own. This is a transition that takes time to figure out but being a student-athlete was taxing. Myself and my peers had to figure out a good balance between the multiple lifestyles that we lived.
4. In your freshman year at Virginia, you played in two matches. What did you learn in that freshman year?
My first year I played several games and it was tough. It was the hardest thing I had to endure because I was so accustomed to playing every game and being the best player on the pitch. In that moment, I realized and learned that I’m not always gonna be the best on the pitch and that’s okay. I had to learn as a first year that I had to earn my spot and just keep going. The phrase that the older guys kept saying to me was to stay the course. I learned to be patient and to keep working because my time will come. In that time of being patient, it taught me how to better my game in playing faster and smarter on and off the ball.
5. In your next two years at Virginia, you didn’t see much playing time. How did you cope with not getting the minutes you were hoping for?
The next two years after my first year were even harder mentally more than anything. I didn’t play much at all even when I thought I should have been. I felt I was performing in training but wasn’t getting the opportunity in games to display my growth over the years. I coped by just keeping myself around positive individuals whether it was guys on my team or my peers outside of athletics. It helped me to keep going no matter what. It made me work twice as hard. The games I didn’t play were a lot of them; I would literally run and do drills right after the game by myself on the practice field or field hockey field. Our games were always at night and it didn’t matter how late it was. I took it upon myself to stay out there to keep my fitness up as well as run off my frustration. It was a mix of emotions. However, it helped me clear my head and kept me grounded to remember that I needed to keep putting in the work. So when the time came, when my name was called I would be ready to go.
6. After three years with the Cavaliers, you transferred to VCU where you saw action right away, playing in 18 games as a redshirt junior. What did it mean to you to finally get back on the field consistently?
The next stage of my career was transferring to VCU. It was down the street from UVA and it was one of the longest/toughest decisions ever. UVA had such a special place in my heart but at the same time soccer and playing was important. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could play at this level and VCU gave me that opportunity to display me, Peter Pearson. The coaching staff welcomed me with open arms and freedom to be myself. They gave me confidence that I haven’t had for quite sometime and it felt amazing to have a coaching staff that believed in me. By me getting on the field right away, it gave me that feeling that I deserve to be here and that I do have what it takes. My first season I played almost every game and I was still trying to find my footing because it has been so long since I have played that many games. It was a good season for me individually but I know I still had a lot more to offer. It lead me to even more freedom of just playing the game I love and pushing myself to be the best version of me that I could be for the following year.
7. In your redshirt senior year at VCU, you tallied 5 goals and eleven total points. Overall, how was your senior season?
My senior season meant everything. It was the icing on the cake and I was truly blessed to lead that team to the first ever title at VCU in the Atlantic 10 conference. Before my senior year, I remember telling myself that it was my time. This is the moment I have been waiting for and I’m just gonna go for it. I played with no fear or doubt and it lead to a season to remember. My senior season felt like all the obstacles that I had to go through led me to have this amazing experience here at VCU. An organization that gave me a second chance at playing at such a high level and helped me make my dream become a reality. I hope to keep climbing the ladder of the professional football world.
8. While playing in college, you also made appearances for the Fresno Fuego and Des Moines Menace, both competing in the USL League 2 (formerly PDL). How were your summers in the USL League 2?
My PDL summer experiences were exciting and challenging. It was exciting because the teams that I played for were well known around the country and were teams that brought a lot of eyes on them. The exposure was unheard of and I was excited to learn and grow as a player within these organizations for several months. My first summer season with Fresno was a weird one at first because the coach that recruited me or wanted me to go ended up resigning the day I got there. In that happening, it made it much harder to receive the playing time that we talked about before he left. I had to get used to a new coach that didn’t really know much about me. I pushed myself in training for him to see what type of player I was and how I can be a huge asset to the team. As the season got started, I didn’t start which was frustrating but I kept grinding in training. I was waiting for my time and I got that chance to show my ability. I came off the bench most of the games and brought a good dynamic to the team and I made my presence known. It was an on and off experience but looking back on it, I learned a lot about myself and how to handle myself mentally being on the bench like I did at UVA. As for Des Moines, it was a completely different dynamic. The reason being was that this team was full of ex-Pros and guys trying to find a new contract after the summer season. The level of training was very high and caused me to be able to get used to playing with the pros. It taught me how to train like a pro and gave me a sense of what it takes to play at the next level. I asked a lot of questions and used that to better my game for my senior season in college. I ended up playing a lot; whether it was coming off the bench or starting. Every chance that I got I made sure I gave it my all. It was a successful PDL season and we went undefeated for the time that I was there which was 16-0. We were regular-season champs and had the opportunity to go to the championship.
9. You mentioned how your father was a marine. What impact did your father have on your life?
Yes, my father was a marine most of his life and traveled a lot. He had a big impact on my life because he has always provided for my family and I. Even though he was gone most of the time to do what he had to do for us, he still made sure he was thereby calling every single day. I respect him so much because his job isn’t easy and I am blessed to call him my father.
10. After a great collegiate career, you signed your first professional contract in January of 2019 with South Georgia Tormenta FC. How were you feeling after finally signing a professional contract?
After college, I signed right away to Tormenta FC and the feeling was amazing. It was something that I have dreamt about nonstop. At first, I was so stressed and worried about whether or not I would have a chance in the draft or trials with other pro teams. One day I got a call from the coach and he gave me a pretty good offer right off the back and it was the best feeling ever. It was like a weight being lifted off my shoulder. Now I could just focus on training and putting myself in the best position to start and have a successful first year.
11. How was your tenure with the Tormenta?
My tenure with Tormenta was a rough one. When I got there I started off very strong in the preseason for the first several weeks. After those several weeks, I had a good feeling that it was going to be a great year until a hamstring injury came about. I was out for 2-3 weeks and the season was creeping upon us. I ended up missing several preseason games against top USL championship teams and the very first game of the season. It was a tough time but I kept my focus on getting better because I knew if I just got healthy I would get my chance to play. As time kept flying by, I was finally training and slowly getting my rhythm back until another injury disrupted my play once again. It kept me out for almost a month and a half to two months. I had a number of doctor appointments to speed the process up but I just had to let it heal. Let’s just say it wasn’t the year for me. I had several injuries that kept me out of the season and didn’t allow me to be the Peter Pearson from the first several weeks of preseason. It was a dark time for me because this has been something that I have been dreaming about since I was three and it took basically a whole year away from me.
12. After a season with South Georgia, you signed for one of America's hottest clubs in the Oakland Roots. What has your experience with Oakland been like so far?
After Tormenta, I signed with a new club called Oakland Roots that took part in a new professional league called NISA (national independent soccer association). It has been unbelievable so far for me. I have been enjoying the city of Oakland as well as the organization. They have been very professional and have such an amazing vision for the future of the sports club. The culture within the area around Oakland Roots is something out of a movie. In my eyes the people/fans are very supportive. For example, we got around 6-7,000 fans for our first game. That right there tells you how dedicated the people are to this team and area. The coaching staff have been on top of things and have demanded excellence from us every day. Our team is very diverse from demographics to age and we all get along very well. We have started the season pretty strong with a tie and a win. Now, we hope to keep getting better and building the culture that we want for this group.
13. Recently, the NISA season was put under suspension due to the COVID-19 virus. Being in quarantine, what have you done in your off-time so far?
Since this season has been on hold like every other professional sport, I have been doing everything I can to stay ready. Our coaching staff has given us a schedule/workout plan to follow every day to help make sure we are keeping our fitness up as well as our technical ability. I have been doing a lot of running and ball work to stay sharp. I also have been doing a number of zoom calls with our coaches to mentally stay fresh about the game. We watch a lot of films of our games and work on visualization to help prepare us for when we come back. In addition to that, I have been doing a lot of at-home workouts like yoga, core mobility strength etc.
14. In your own words, who is Peter Pearson?
Who is Peter Pearson? Peter Pearson is a loving, caring, kind, humbling human being that wants the best for others. He is a very sociable guy, easy to talk to and connects with anyone on a different level. He perseveres through all the hardships he goes through and has a strong belief in who he is as a person as well as a footballer. He will never let anyone tell him that he can’t do anything and always finds a way to rise to the occasion in anything he does. He is a person that wants to create change in any way possible and wants to be the best version of himself for the next generation to follow. He wants to resemble what Kobe Bryant said: “ the most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do”. Lastly, that is who Peter Pearson is and strives to be every day an inspiration for others to be who they want to be.
15. Craziest memory from your career so far?
Craziest memory so far? There is nothing that comes to my head other than the coronavirus coming out of the blue and putting everything on hold. That has and still has been the craziest thing to be a part of in my life right now.
16. Any last words for the readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and to see the journey I have been on so far. There is much more to come but all I have to say is make sure you enjoy the journey. It might be crazy, frustrating, exciting and nerve-racking but that is a part of the process and life. Just be prepared and just know better moments are ahead and stay positive through it all because your moment to shine will come. Thank you all!
Founder, The Sports Court
Big thanks to Peter for the amazing interview! Best of luck this season whenever it may resume and your future career! Good luck and keep grinding!