Home Global Game Europe After two years with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Canadian defender Oliver Spring commits to Duke

After two years with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Canadian defender Oliver Spring commits to Duke


Later this month, Oliver Spring will arrive in Durham, N.C. and will unpack his things. He’ll have a lot of dark blue Duke sweatshirts. In January, the Toronto native will begin classes at Duke, and begin training with the soccer team.

After two years with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth division, the centre back has committed to Duke, and will play with the team in the 2015 season.

Spring will turn 20 years of age in 2015.

Spring said that there were more than a few U.S. schools that were interested in him, but when he made his preliminary list, Duke was near the top — because of its mix of academic and athletic notoriety*.

And, when he first visited the campus, he knew that Duke was where he wanted to go. Coaches John Kerr and Michael Brady made him feel welcome.

“The feeling on the campus was incredible,” said Spring.

“Israel was incredible for me. I had two fantastic years playing there. But I felt that it was time for a new challenge.”

While he did have more than one school interested in him, Spring knows that it wasn’t easy for them to reach out. Unlike most kids they’d be interested in, he wasn’t playing in North America. It wasn’t easy for them to see him play. And, by the same token, he thinks his decision to play youth soccer in Israel is one of the things that may have kept him off the radar of various national teams. He hasn’t played for the national U-17 or U-20 sides, even though he’s been affiliated with Maccabi Tel Aviv and has previously trained with Feyenoord.

“When I got back from Israel, I was in contact with someone from the CSA and they asked me to send them some video. I think that says a lot. To play for Canada, that’s a dream of mine. I understand that, in some ways, playing in Israel hurt that process because I was so far away. But, in other ways, I think it helps that process down the road because going away has helped me to develop into a better soccer player and helped me develop as a person.”

He jokes that he’s already got a wardrobe filled with dark blue sweatshirts and that anything with close to the light-blue shade of the University of North Carolina is forbidden.

He said he’s going into Duke undeclared, 99 per cent sure that he’ll eventually major in physics. But, would the academics go on hold if an MLS team was to draft him in the years to come — or if he got the chance to go back across the ocean to play pro soccer?

“I’ve always felt that if you can make a living doing something that you love, you should go for it.”

*see comments below

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  1. Man

    December 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Oliver Spring turns 20 in December 2014, not in 2015.

    • John

      December 26, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Wrong. He is born Dec 1995. He just turned 19. He turns 20 in 2015.

  2. cwell

    December 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Is “notoriety” the right word?

    • Steven Sandor

      December 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      It’s absolutely the wrong word. I need to give you a prize. For picking it out, I’ve just extended your sub to Plastic Pitch by a year.

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