Rouzier Ready to Build Something Strong in Final Season
Sept. 9, 2010
By Mike Sheridan, Villanova Media Relations
In a process designed to match college student with prospective career, summer internships frequently serve as a launching pad. In the case of Villanova senior men's soccer player Nick Rouzier, a tour of duty with an engineering firm in South Africa in 2010 was even more than that, a revelation of sorts that still resonates in his voice months later.
Rouzier (pronounced roo-zee-ay) is a civil engineering major who spent a good portion of June and July in the employ of BKS, a company that builds professional sports stadia, including Capetown Stadium, one of the sites of the 2010 World Cup.
"It was an amazing experience," says Rouzier, who came to Villanova from Amherst, Mass., where his father, Pierre, served as a team physician for the University of Massachusetts athletic department. "I was a part of stadium inspection tours and got to stand on the glass ceiling at the Capetown Stadium and look down on the field.
"Plus, I got to see seven games."
The experience was such that Rouzier already has a professional goal in his sights.
"I'd like to be in Brazil in 2014 to be a part of the engineering and design of the stadiums there," he states. "Once you have experienced a World Cup, you don't want to miss another."
First, though, Rouzier has other business to tend to. He is the lone captain on a Villanova squad with aspirations of moving up in the BIG EAST. As a senior central back, he will be a pivotal figure for the Wildcats, who host a pair of games this weekend against Lafayette (Friday at 4:00 p.m./Nova Nation All-Access) and George Mason (Sunday at 1:00 p.m./Nova Nation All-Access) at the West Campus Soccer Complex.
"Whatever we have asked Nick to do, he's done it well," states Carlin. "His versatility and willingness to take on any role has really helped us. But it's more than just being versatile - he's consistent too, in whatever role we give him."
Rouzier hails from a family with deep roots in college athletics. In addition to his father, older brother Anthony was an academic All-Conference selection during his years as a linebacker at UMass.
"We didn't have a lot of battles between us because we each had our own sport," states Nick Rouzier.
The younger Rouzier first picked up soccer when the family made its home in Grand Junction, Colo. By the time it relocated in Western Massachusetts, Rouzier's skills had begun to attract notice. Ultimately he would land a spot on the Western United club team, which included teens from the western part of the state.
Standing less than 6-0, Rouzier was not the kind of athlete who attracted instant notice from talent evaluators. But his cerebral, skillful approach tended to earn respect from club coaches and teammates as they spent time around him.
"I have heard people talk about my lack of height ever since I started playing the game," he notes. "I try to use my brain and really think the game. I can't rely on size so I have to really try to see the game."
Those qualities can be subtle, though, and the recruiting process was not frenzied. Rouzier and his family toured schools along the eastern seaboard hoping to generate interest to mixed results. There was, however, one program that made it clear that Rouzier was a priority.
"Villanova was the first school to call me on July 1," he recalls of the period on the recruiting calendar when coaches are permitted to reach out to prospective student-athletes.
When it came time to choose, the versatile athlete paid close heed to words of advice he heard from both brother and his friends who had been through the Division I recruiting process.
"They told me to go where you are wanted," states Rouzier. "Villanova was the place that stood out to me."
His first season was in the blue and white was one of transition. Former head coach Larry Sullivan was in his final season at the helm and Carlin had just arrived as his top aide. It was then that Rouzier's ability to "think the game" paid dividends. He was versatile enough to play in the midfield, on the defensive wing or, on occasion, at forward.
By mid-season, attrition had cost the team several veteran midfielders and defenders. Rouzier made the most of his opportunity and settled in as the starter on the defensive wing, making nine starts. It appeared that he had found a home.
Yet it didn't turn out that way.
"The next year Kevin Garcia came in at my position," states Rouzier. "He was better there than I was. My immediate thought was - where else can I play to help the team? I told the coaches that I would play wherever they thought I could help."
That selfless attitude is one major reason why Rouzier is today a team leader. His willingness to put team above all else has been a trademark of his playing career and has been an invaluable asset as the Villanova roster has grown deeper and more talented over the course of his four years on the Main Line.
Ironically, Rouzier's primary home since 2007 has been at central back, a position generally populated by the tallest and strongest athletes on the pitch. Yet he has prospered there due to a strong work ethic, terrific anticipation and calm demeanor when the heat is on.
"It's all about positioning for me," he states.
Rouzier's importance will only grow with news that his classmate and sidekick in the central midfield, honors candidate Chris Christian, may be lost for the season after suffering a right knee injury during Saturday's 2-0 loss at Drexel.
"For me, I take it both ways," Rouzier says. "We all feel badly for Chris. There is a lot of stuff Chris does for our team on the field that goes unnoticed. He is a great player and it's sad to think that I may not have a chance to play with him again. I really trust him out there.
"At the same time, being around my Dad, I know that, unfortunately, injuries are a part of sports. As a team, you have to look at this as an opportunity for another player to step up and make an impact. It happened to me - I probably wouldn't have had an opportunity to play as a freshman if our starters had been out there all year."
Two games into 2010, the Wildcats have continued their pattern of a year ago when stirring wins were often followed by disappointing efforts. A pulsating 2-1 overtime victory over Patriot League favorite Bucknell was followed by a 2-0 loss at Drexel. Now, the `Cats get set to kick off a stretch of six home dates in seven remaining September contests against a quality Lafayette club.
"I think the big thing for us is that we have to set out to prove we're the better team every single game," says Rouzier. "We've come a long way in my four years here but the record has still been around .500. We'd like the record to reflect the progress we see every day."
Consider that Rouzier's final construction project before he tackles his move into the business of building stadiums - preferably at the scene of future World Cup venues.