Calix Bringing Potent Strike To College Park

When Jorge Calix first started playing soccer, at the age of four, he was a natural right-footer, dribbling, passing, shooting and doing pretty much everything with his dominant hoof. That is, until he broke his right ankle in a rec-league game, forcing him to compensate by using his left foot.

When Jorge Calix (T.C. Williams/Alexandria, Va.) first started playing soccer, at the age of four, he was a natural right-footer, dribbling, passing, shooting and doing pretty much everything with his dominant hoof. That is, until he broke his right ankle in a rec-league game, forcing him to compensate by using his left foot.

By the time the cast came off, Calix’s left foot was just as developed as the right one, a fortunate turn of events following an unfortunate circumstance.

“I guess you could say it was a blessing in disguise,” laughed Calix, a class of 2015 midfield signee, who is part of Maryland’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class. “When I broke my right ankle, my dad was telling me how using my left foot would give me an advantage over other players as I got older, so I started using my left foot more and more. I don’t know how it happened, but I basically became left-footed, and now I actually have to work on my right foot and get that more involved in my game. But I have a really good shot with my left foot (laughs).”

Indeed he does. Calix’s lefty strike is one of the most potent in the country for his age group, a primary reason he’s ranked a four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer and considered the No. 15 class of 2015 prospect overall by College Soccer News.

“Jorge is a gifted and versatile attacking player capable of playing multiple places. He has a special left foot and a fantastic shot,” Terps coach Sasho Cirovski said after Calix signed March 27.

Calix began honing said shot, albeit with his right foot, after watching his father, Jose Calix, compete in a local men’s league in Northern Virginia. The four-year Jorge used to stand on the sidelines, intently watching the grown men run up and down the pitch, imitating their moves with his own ball.

Eventually, Jose Calix enrolled Jorge in a local rec-league program, but it was the father who was instrumental in the son’s development.

“My dad basically taught me everything. He’s the one who started me in the game, and he’s the one who was my first teacher and coach,” said Calix, whose parents (his mother is Isai Ortiz) are both of Honduran descent and immigrated to Iowa before moving to Alexandria, Va., when Jorge Calix was a baby. “Even today, my dad always gives me advice, and he’s the one I go to when I have questions or need anything. He’s always encouraging me and pushing me.”

Calix starred as a forward in the youth leagues, his strike so potent it practically scared the bejesus out of opposing players. By the time he was eight years old, it was clear he had a bright future ahead of him.

“I always just played for fun and really had no idea what I was doing,” said Calix, who also played AAU basketball when he was younger. “But my dad used to tell me how the other parents would get all excited when their kids would stop one of my shots (laughs). Everyone just expected me to score. My dad always kept me humble and to never think I was better than anyone else, but it gave me a lot of confidence at a very young age.”

Eventually Calix became a captain of a Virginia travel program, coaxing him to work even harder and continue developing the finer points of his game. He came under the tutelage of Luis Menneses and Alex Pinto, two coaches Calix said were instrumental in his progression.

“A lot of times I didn’t have a ride to the travel league games, so Coach Luis would come pick me up, take me to the games and then drop me off at my mom’s work. He trained me and really helped me get better,” Calix said. “And Coach Tinto, he was the head coach of the team, and he helped the entire team and really pushed us. He made the whole group a lot better, and he trained me privately too. He really cared about me and made sure I was on the right path. I owe a lot to Coach Pinto and Coach Luis.”

When Calix was nine years old he had earned a spot on a competitive club team, Team America, which was based in the Alexandria area. He spent the next four years training with them, winning three State Cup championships in the process.

It was around this time when Calix started to realize he could potentially earn a living playing the game he loved.

“I remember in my third year with Team America, there was this play I had where I got the ball in the midfield; triple dribbled; beat like three defenders; and scored the game-winning goal from like 20 yards out,” Calix said. “It was a pretty special moment for me and the team. I have to say Team America, the time I was there really helped shape me into the player I am today.”

Around the age of 13, Calix advanced further up the ranks. That’s when the renowned sports institute IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., invited him to its residency program, which the budding star promptly accepted. He spent a full year in Florida, gaining valuable experience competing against some of the country’s top talents.

After that, Calix caught the attention of the D.C. United youth academy in Washington, D.C., jumping at the chance to return home and play against even better competition.

“Nolan Sheldon was my coach for two years with D.C. United, and he always pushed me to get better,” said Calix, who noted that Sheldon is now United’s director while Tom Torres handles the coaching duties. “He gave me an opportunity to train against players three, four years older than me, guys playing professionally and in college. He let me go against his first team. He didn’t have to do that, but he saw something in me and took the time to help develop me. It was an awesome experience going against all these great players, and it helped a lot. It was a very physical, technical league, and it forced me to work hard at my game to be able to compete.”

By this time, Calix had established himself as a star in the making. He had already competed with the U.S. U-17 men’s national team, as well as the U-20 Honduras national squad, garnering a reputation as one of the most feared midfielders in the States.

While with Honduras, he had a chance to play all over South America, in locales like Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. The U.S. team, meanwhile, allowed him to experience European soccer in countries such as France, Spain, England, Austria, Croatia and Turkey.

“I mean, when you think about it, I’ve had a lot of great opportunities. A free trip to France? You kidding me?” Calix said, chuckling. “Playing for the national teams, representing my own country and then my parents’ country, it was awesome. I honestly didn’t care what country I was playing for, just as long as I was playing and competing.

“Having your friends and family be able to watch you on TV, and then to learn from some of the best coaches around, it’s really a great experience. It’s honestly amazing, and I’m just thankful for everything I’ve been able to do so far.”

Calix considered turning pro around the age of 17, but elected to go the college route when offers started pouring in from the likes of Maryland, Wake Forest, UCLA and High Point. After visiting several different campuses, he chose the nearby Terps in December 2014.

“I chose Maryland because it’s a great school, I have a lot of teammates I played with at D.C. United going there, and my parents can easily come see me play,” Calix said. “It’s big that my family can see me, because they’ve been instrumental in my life, and it’s special for them to be able to see me live. And I know Maryland has produced some phenomenal players, and Coach Sasho is a terrific coach. I know Coach Sasho and that program are going to help me get even better.”

Now, Calix, along with nationally-rated talents like forward Seba Elney, forward D.J. Reeves, forward Eryk Williamson, midfielder Diego Silva, midfield Connor Smith and others will attempt to guide UMD to the College Cup. Cirovski called his 2015 crop the “biggest and deepest class in the history of Maryland soccer,” so much is expected heading into next season.

“It’s an awesome class to be apart of, and we have high expectations next year,” Calix said. “What happened was D.J., he committed first and he knew Maryland was talking to me too, so he was telling me to join the Terps. And when I felt comfortable there, I was like, ‘Why not?’ Then Eryk -- we played together with United -- he originally committed to Kentucky, but when he saw that I was going to Maryland, he de-committed and went with the Terps too. Then it all kind of went from there, everyone jumping on board. So we all think we can do big things at Maryland and help them win a championship.”

Calix admitted, however, his College Park stint could be a short one. He said his goal is to help guide the Terps to a title and then possibly take his talents to Europe in a year or two.

“To be honest, I’m thinking I’ll be there a couple years and then go pro. I’d love to play in Europe somewhere, against the best players in the world,” Calix said. “As long as I’m playing soccer over there, that’s the dream. And I’d love to play in the World Cup one day, either for Honduras or the U.S. The country doesn’t matter, just as long as I’m playing on the biggest stage. That’s my dream.”

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