By Jeff Harrison
Adrian Ables has always set high goals.
He dreamed of playing soccer in high school, college and beyond. But the Midwest City native never imagined the future would include playing on a professional club in his own backyard.
That improbable dream came true when Ables signed with Rayo OKC, of the North American Soccer League, just a month after graduating from DePauw University in Indiana.
“This wasn’t even a dream I ever had when I was growing up,” Ables said. “I’m just happy playing professional soccer in Oklahoma.”
Ables and fellow Oklahoman Bryan Byars were signed to the official roster for remainder of the season which runs through November. Rayo OKC kicked off its inaugural season in NASL. The team plays its home matches at Miller Stadium in Yukon.
Ables earned a spot on the team after impressing coaches during a tryout in February. He received interest from other clubs but wanted to play for Rayo OKC.
“After the tryout they said finish school and they’d have a spot for me,” Ables said.
Ables finished his degree while also preparing his body for the rigors of professional soccer. His workout plan focused on adding muscle and weight. Since joining the club, Ables said he’s been learning a lot from his teammates, some who have played in the World Cup and professional leagues.
“Rayo is a good team with some very experienced players and I’m learning a lot from them,” he said. “If I mess up in practice, they help me understand why.”
As a rookie, Ables knows he’ll have to work his way onto the field.
“I know I’m fast and strong, but I need to put the mentality behind it,” he said.
Ables said he also enjoys giving back to the community, especially providing a positive message to children.
“I love doing this and want to be an inspiration to kids to focus on academics and athletics,” he said. “I have a lot of pride in Oklahoma and Midwest City.”
Soccer is gaining popularity in Oklahoma, but still lags behind football and basketball in Midwest City. Ables started playing soccer when he was just four years old. His passion grew while playing for Midwest City Soccer Club and later with clubs in Edmond and North Oklahoma City. Ables was also a standout in high school for the Bombers.
“A lot of kids in Midwest City focus on basketball and football, but there is a lot of potential for growth in soccer,” he said.
His efforts in club and high school soccer caught the attention of college coaches. Ables decided on DePauw University, a private liberal arts college in Greencastle, Indiana. He was attracted to the school’s strong athletic and academic reputation.
“I went there for academics and their computer science program,” he said. “They don’t offer any athletic scholarships, but they have good athletics too.”
Ables played four years at DePauw, recording 18 goals and had 17 assists in 75 games for the Tigers. He graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
The recent graduate has big goals off the field too. He is starting a business along with some of his college alumni. The group is building applications for phones and businesses.
“We’re laying the foundation now and working on our ideas,” he said.
Not only is he a big dreamer, but a high achiever as well.