Arik Duncan grew up playing soccer for Concorde Fire Soccer Club in Atlanta Georgia. After high school, he went on to start his collegiate career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 2019. Arik had quite a successful career at RPI, where he played in sixteen games, tallying five goals and three assists. His college soccer career was put on hold, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Arik began looking for different opportunities.
Arik chose to join IDA Valencia because it had all the key components for him: an elite coaching staff, top class facilities, close knit teammates, and a high level of training right at his fingertips. “My main goal was to get better. I did not necessarily have a goal of signing a professional contract or going back to the US for a Division 1 school… I just wanted to get better.” Arik stated that the coaching staff and players with similar ambitions originally peaked his interest in IDA Valencia.
When asked about his experience in Valencia, Arik stated, “My experience at IDA was really great. Especially the first six months because that is when I was most involved with IDA. It was a really great group of guys. We were really close knit. The level of training at that time was really high, and I built some good relationships with the coaches and gained a lot of experience as a player. It was awesome in general to see around Spain and different parts of Valencia. Overall it was just a really great experience, not just soccer-wise but embracing the culture of Spain and the different lifestyles.”
Arik played with IDA Valencia full-time for six months after his arrival before reaching an agreement with UD Vall de Uxó. During this time he was still living in the IDA facilities and training with the IDA team part-time. When asked about the IDA preparation for playing at the next level, Arik stated, “It introduced me to a more focused lifestyle. I had the field right next to where I lived and I was constantly training everyday. Constantly having access to the gym, pool, recovery, being able to train as much as I was, it really prepared me to take the next step in a competitive environment.”
Arik had many great mentors throughout his career but he is especially thankful for all of his coaches and directors at IDA Valencia. Arik said, “Ivan Berlanga and Jordi Gomez have always supported me, whether it was on the field or off the field… They helped me find opportunities and to settle in Spain. George Nichols also has always helped me on the field a ton.” Arik wanted to give a special thank you to Antony Blackburn, “He was my main mentor at the time and we have a really great relationship. He has been very vital to my success in Valencia.”
Antony Blackburn, one of Arik’s key mentors in Valencia, knew his player was going to do big things. He shared with us, “When Arik joined us, we sat down for our initial meeting as we do with all players. When I asked him about his aspirations and what he wanted from his time here, he simply said “to improve and leave a better player”. We help a lot of players improve and achieve their next level. That question is often answered with something like: signing a pro or going on trial somewhere. Arik just wanted to get better. It was refreshing to hear that, and it always stuck with me when working with Arik on a 1to1 basis – he just wants to improve. Maybe for some, DIII to DI might come as a surprise, but for people who know him, it’s no accident. Arik made the most of the resources he had available here at IDA: the analysis, the sport psychology, the mentoring, the training and games programme, and working 1to1 with our staff – he truly maximised his time here. We are all extremely proud of Arik, not just for his footballing achievements, but just as much for his growth as a person – he’s had a lasting impact on our staff and our program. UC Berkeley have signed a fantastic player and an exciting talent. But above all – and most importantly – a wonderful person.”
Arik is taking the next steps of his career at The University of California, Berkeley in mid-January and will compete for his final two years of eligibility in the NCAA. His impressive development earned him a full-ride scholarship over the course of his time as a Golden Bear. Arik gives this advice to any younger athlete aspiring to play at the next level, “You have to really be obsessed and have to really want it. Training well, eating well, making good habits. Being obsessed with the game, falling in love with the game.” IDA wishes Arik the best of luck as he continues onward with his soccer career at Cal!
If you are interested in learning more about IDA or our resources available to help you get to the next step in your soccer career, speak with an IDA representative here.