Recent WHS grad R.J. Darrell, pictured with parents Rick and Jill, along with coach Rob Jachym during his commitment signing to play soccer at Emmanuel College
R.J. Darrell, a 2021 graduate of Wethersfield High School, will continue his soccer career at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts next fall.
“The coached reached out to me and I went on a tour in February. They were awesome,” Darrell said of his collegiate decision, “It just looked like a really good fit academically, they have a strong business program, and I can play on the soccer team and live in Boston. It was an overall good fit for me.”
Darrell played a variety of sports as a kid, eventually finding his passion on the soccer fields.
“Growing up I played a lot of sports, my parents got me into them. I played baseball and basketball through the town and I was always diversifying but then as I got into middle school and high school I noticed that soccer was my top sports, so I started focusing on soccer,” recalled Darrell, “I realized how much I loved it and I was getting better every year.”
His older sister, Megan, played soccer at Wheaton College in Massachusetts after graduating from WHS and his younger sister, Lauren, plays soccer and just finished her freshman year at the high school.
Darrell called his family a “soccer family” and recalled Megan “schooling” him in the backyard, teaching him lessons he would later use in high school.
Once at WHS, he shined as a four-year member of Eagles soccer, starting on varsity each of the past two seasons.
As a junior, he helped lead the Eagles to a conference championship and a berth in the state tourney. After a pair of tourney wins, he scored the team’s only goal in an overtime loss to Wilton in the semifinal round.
The Eagles used that loss to Wilton as motivation this last fall, winning conference again and finishing undefeated behind a strong senior class.
Darrell, who was a team captain, earned All-State honors.
“This year meant a lot because going into the year nobody knew if we’d even have a season. It wasn’t a normal season by any means but at the same time we were lucky to have a season,” said Darrell, who used quarantine to improve his skills, “This past summer I worked the hardest I’ve ever worked. I wanted these seniors to be celebrated and carry on that tradition. There’s a lot of pressure at Wethersfield to deliver a good team, so we wanted to continue that.”
Darrell shined off the field as well, earning both CCC All-Academic and CHSCA All-State Academic distinctions. He was also an active member of the JETS Design team, an engineering team that designs and builds devices to help disabled persons in the workplace.
He departs WHS with a ton of accolades and even more fond memories.
“I’ll definitely miss the under the light games in front of student section. I’ll miss the comradery with my teammates and I’ll miss everything about the state tournament,” said Darrell, who added that this year’s graduating class was battled tested because of the obstacles they faced over the past 15 months, “We all helped each other through it. It was the toughest time in our lives and now I don’t take anything for granted. You have to treat every game like it could be your last.”
Next fall, he will join a Saints team in Beantown that will be eager to play following an unfulfilled 2020 season because of COVID.
“I’m super excited to hopefully elevate my game and work even harder to improve myself,” said Darrell, who will major in Business, “The next step is going to be a challenge and I just want to me the best soccer player I can be.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin