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Nine Zero Plus - Logan Kingman

Logan is a former soccer player with experience playing at Saint Michael’s College and the New York Red Bulls.


While his professional playing career was limited to a few short months, he decided to pursue a career in technology and is now a Business Development leader at LinkedIn.


We met working at LinkedIn and have shared many stories about technology and the game of soccer. Our conversation on Nine Zero Plus focuses on soccer - but who knows, maybe we’ll do a Part II on technology!


Logan had and still has a love for the game of soccer. His work ethic and grit are clear through his soccer journey and there are breadcrumbs of great sports and business anecdotes and learnings throughout our conversation:

  • Why Logan’s 21st birthday was better than yours.

  • How compassion and leadership builds confidence in others.

  • Why cold emails still work.

  • How a passion for the game can be the difference maker.

  • Why a career in technology was the next chapter.


You can learn more about Logan on, you guessed it, LinkedIn.

This conversation was edited into written form to make it easier to read.

Enjoy!


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Richard

What was your first memory of soccer?


Logan

My dad and I. He would just roll a ball to me and I'd kick it back to him. It’s simple, but that's how it all started. Both my parents played, so a soccer ball was always in the house.


Richard

Where did your parents play?


Logan

My mom got a scholarship to Cornell to play. The crazy thing was she didn’t go because she wasn’t able to afford the books to attend class and she ended up going to a smaller Division III school in West Virginia, and that's where my parents actually met. My dad played soccer there too. Unfortunately, or fortunately, he broke his back playing and while he stopped playing, he started coaching the women's team, and that's how my parents met.


Richard

Turning back to you, when did you realize or have a feeling that you had the potential or the chance to play at the college and even professional level?


Logan

It wasn’t the skill as much as my attitude and behavior as a young kid that I knew I was a little different. I’d sleep in my jersey the night before a game. I cared more about practice and cared more about the games. Winning and losing seemed more important to me than others around me. As I grew up and started to get a few personal awards and was recruited to camps in middle school and high school I realized that my talent might help me play at a higher level, but early on, I just loved it more than anybody around me.


Richard

As you developed as a player, were there other moments where you realized a change in yourself, in your ability or potential?


Logan

As a goalkeeper you have to find ways to impact the game beyond the few touches you get on the ball. Once I realized that in order for me to do so I had to find ways to make my team the best they can be and learn ways to do that, including holding myself to a higher and higher standard, that’s when I realized a bit of a change in how I approached the game and what leadership meant. As a keeper, you do have to be a good shot stopper and have an ability to control the game but it was when I was about 10 or 11 that I started to realize both my potential as an individual and as someone that can help others reach the top of their game too.


Richard

Who were the early influences on your game, who did you model your game after if anyone?


Logan

Early on it was Tim Howard, he was the guy for me. Around fifth grade, I started watching Manchester United games and he was the guy for the USA national team. His play but also his story had a big impact on me. I had severe asthma growing up to the point where I couldn’t play a full game in the field easily and it was very upsetting to me at the time. Tim has been pretty open about his career and life with tourette syndrome and it was something I related to in terms of something outside of your control. Tim was the guy for me.


Richard

Tell us more about your coaches and family, what influence did they have?


Logan

I had great coaches. My high school coach was also the club team coach and so we spent a lot of time together. He was hard on me but always gave me the support I needed too. He also gave me perspective and held me to high standard, he also made me understand that I might have been a great player on our high school team but I was an average player on our club team, and he’d remind me of how much work I still had to do if I wanted to play at higher levels. His name is Tim Guter.


[Note: Tim was recently inducted to the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame, and Nine Zero Plus had a chance to sit down with him to discuss his career, stay tuned for a future post.]


And my parents were committed to being a support system. I realize more and more just how committed they were and how much they sacrificed.


Richard

Speaking of standards, what was a moment where you raised up in a game to meet those standards?


Logan

This is fun to think about. I wish I had better team moments but we didn't win a lot of championships. My sophomore year in college, I had just been named a starter and we were playing the number one team in the nation, Bloomfield, at home. I saved a penalty kick in the first half and then saved a point blank follow up. I know I did, and I think everyone else did too, just think “holy sh--”. It was a moment where I felt I earned the respect and trust from the team. It was a good feeling and it’s a feeling that is important to create throughout your life, that feeling of mutual respect and trust.


Richard

What about a highlight moment of your career?


Logan

Probably, the highlight of my career outside individual and team performances was making the Red Bull team. It was my 21st birthday and I drove 10 hours from North Carolina to New Jersey to try out. I remember driving, playing and thinking I had a shot, but you just never know. It’s so different playing against professionals and trying out where everyone is playing at a higher level than you’ve ever played at before. But, I got the call and it was an unbelievable moment.


Richard

Wait, so how did this tryout come about, it sounds kind of last minute?


Logan

I literally sent them a cold email and that I had an internship lined up that summer in New York and would love to try out. This was between my junior and senior year in college. They gave me the “ok” and it happened to be on my 21st birthday and I didn’t think it’d be a good move to ask them to reschedule so I drove up and things worked out. I got a call the same day and then played with them for the summer. They made it clear there wasn’t going to be a spot for me on the roster after the summer but that I could play with them for the next couple of months. The beer tasted pretty good that birthday.


Richard

So, even though after the summer and presumably you kept in touch during your senior year there wasn’t a spot on the Red Bull team, did you consider other open tryouts or playing in another league, for example the United Soccer League?


Logan

I had a few conversations with guys in the Red Bull organization and they were up front about the situation of playing if you’re not a top player with a spot, it's a grind and you're not making any money. A lot of the conversations I had were with guys who had put their careers after playing on hold trying to make it and I didn't think that was the right path for me given where I stacked up against everyone else playing skill wise. I looked in the mirror and didn’t think I would make it to the MLS and didn’t think the unclear path of the ladder through the USL making zero money was the right path for me. I was very conflicted because part of me wasn’t ready to stop playing and give up my love for the game. But ultimately I was ready to move out west and wanted to work in technology. I was ready for that next chapter.


Richard

What about a moment that was on the other end? What was a hard moment?


Logan

This one is easy. I was a sophomore in high school and there was a game where everything was off. My positioning, my distribution, making small mistakes everywhere. I let in an easy goal but somehow we managed to get to penalty kicks after overtime. I was pretty good at penalty kicks in practice and was selected to take one in the shoot out, finally a chance to redeem myself. I missed the entire goal and we lost the game. I was 15 at the time and just embarrassed about my performance and my confidence was rock bottom.


Richard

How did you shake it off?


Logan

By a great display of leadership from our captain who was a senior. After the game, I remember my dad walking me out, knowing I was down and the captain of the team, who I wasn’t really friends with yet, asked my dad if I could come out with them that night instead of going home. That gesture gave me more confidence than my captain probably realized at the time.


Richard

Looking back at your playing career, any regrets?


Logan

I think my biggest regret is I don't think I had as much fun as I could have. Looking back, I actually played better when I was just having fun. I was often so stressed and so focused on not making mistakes and how to have a perfect game that actually led to playing worse. I also think that got to my teammates a little bit, how wound tight I was about it. So looking back, I think at times I didn't make the game fun for myself and I probably didn't make it as fun for my team as I could have. No major regrets, but if I could go back and do it again, I would take the time to really enjoy it more.


Richard

What do you miss most about playing?


Logan

Just being around your teammates every day. There's a different kind of bond that you get with a group of guys that you're like fighting next to. When you’re pushing to the limits, some of those relationships and bonds and moments that you have with teammates on and off the field is what I miss the most.


Richard

Do you plan to ever return back to soccer in any way?


Logan

I'd love to coach. I’ve coached a little bit here and there but I’d love to get back to that at some point.


Richard

As we wrap things up, just want to say thank you for your time, always good to catch up.


Logan

You too, thanks for having me.

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