By eating his strawberry yogurt with a fork, allowing pink slush to slide through the gaps, Titans midfielder Ross McPhie practices patience.
Although he experiences some teasing from his roommates, McPhie refuses to eat the snack with a spoon because he believes he’ll eat it too quick.
McPhie walks into Titan Stadium everyday with that same patience, a quality inspired by his favorite player, Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane.
“I do like the way he finishes. The calmness he has in front of the goal. That is what I try and take away from this game,” McPhie said.
That approach of effectiveness over flashiness has helped McPhie find success. It allowed him to win the 2017 Big West Co-Midfielder of the Year award, the first time a Titan has achieved the accolade. He was also named on the All-Big West men’s soccer first team.
However, long before his efforts in Titan Stadium, McPhie developed his patient outlook on life halfway around the world.
McPhie’s globe-spanning journey started early when he moved from his homeland of England to Nelson, New Zealand and back again before ultimately returning to New Zealand at age 11.
After developing a taste for travel, McPhie was able to choose where he wanted to go and at the age of 16, he chose to move again. McPhie moved away from his family in Nelson, New Zealand to attend high school in Auckland, the nearest big city, and pursue his dream of playing soccer at a higher level.
Two years later, the 18-year-old made the decision to move again.
After sending highlight videos to several colleges in the United States, Cal State Fullerton responded. Shortly after, McPhie, his father and Titans Head Coach George Kuntz had a meeting via Skype.
During the hour-long call, McPhie only had the opportunity to say a few words before his father took control. While being peppered with questions regarding what the Titans could offer McPhie, Kuntz addressed the concerns as best as he could.
“You know, obviously sending your son halfway around the world, I haven’t done that, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like, but I would be gutted,” Kuntz said.
Despite the thoroughness of his interview, McPhie’s father only had one question for his son after the call: Is this really what you want to do? When McPhie said yes, his father had a simple response.
“That’s good enough for me then,” McPhie’s father said.
The response was simple because the decision was ultimately up to McPhie. His father had no say in the matter.
McPhie’s parents have always trusted his judgment.
“It’s always up to me, and I like that. I like that they always do have my back no matter what I do choose. They don’t pressure me to do different things,” McPhie said.
His old soul might be why his parents are so trusting of McPhie. He frequently listens to the Isley Brothers on his record player and teaches his roommates to cook for themselves.
His varying interests made the United States appealing to McPhie, who said it’s the only country in the world that allows athletes to earn a degree and play a sport concurrently, making his decision to be a Titan easier.
Trusting his gut while making those major life choices has also allowed McPhie to have more faith in himself on the field.
“I find that football is a lot harder because a lot of it is done on instinct and it’s not like American football or basketball, where you have set plays,” McPhie said. “It’s hard to visualize a certain play, but if something has worked well for you in the past, just try to think about that.”
Although McPhie finds it difficult to formulate a game plan prior to stepping onto the field, he does put thought into where he wants his education to take him.
McPhie hopes majoring in civil engineering will open international doors in case soccer doesn’t work out. Because its math and concepts are the same around the world, it will be easier for McPhie to continue his love of globetrotting.
“I like traveling so much because I’ve done it most of my life, but at the same time it is an obstacle because every time you do move, you have get used to a new environment and people on your team,” McPhie said.
He can handle an adjustment period. As any of McPhie’s teammates who have watched him eat yogurt can attest, he’s used to being patient.
Despite McPhie’s decisiveness in charting his own path, he still doesn’t have a clear vision of where he’ll be 10 years from now.
“I couldn’t even tell you what country I’ll be in to be honest. You have to take opportunities as they come, so you can’t really tell where you’re going to end up,” McPhie said. “You just kind of have to keep saying yes to things, and hopefully it goes well.”