When you try to show a Bloomington kid the west coast, well, he’s just going to come back to Bloomington in the end.
That’s how it worked out for IU soccer sophomore midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr. The “townie” who grew up in Bloomington and attended Bloomington High School North just couldn’t say no to the school he’s supported his entire life.
“It was hard to go away from IU,” Gutjahr said. “Both my parents went to Stanford, so I felt that a little bit. It’s a great school, I visited there, but I just couldn’t leave Indiana. I love Bloomington and I love the guys, love the coaching staff, love everything, and I ended up here and I’m happy about it.”
Gutjahr’s father, Paul, teaches English, American Studies and Religious Studies at IU, and Jeremiah said they came to games throughout his childhood. When asked about being able to wear ‘Crimson and Cream,’ he lit up and said it’s awesome.
“I’ve grown up here and my dad works at the University, so him and I came to games as long as I can remember,” Gutjahr said. “When they were winning championships in 2003 and 2004, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been coming to games ,and to now play, it’s pretty cool.”
Gutjahr didn’t have the largest role as a freshman in 2015, but did play in 17 matches and tallied one assist. During his freshman season, he got experience elswhere too.
The midfielder got the opportunity to play for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team and to participate in the Mercedes-Benz Elite Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, last October. He had to miss time with his college team, but said he was able to bring a lot of things back to Bloomington with him.
“I think it was just how high of a level it was over there and now bringing it back here — holding guys accountable, making sure they’re holding me accountable and then just the internal confidence as well,” Gutjahr said.
IU Coach Todd Yeagley said they almost have to temper his expectations because they don’t want to overwhelm him this early in his career. Gutjahr played so much soccer with U.S. youth teams and MLS youth teams in prior years and has a well of experience to dip into.
In 2016, the midfielder started the first two regular season games of the season, but Yeagley did mention there is room for improvement.
“I think Jeremiah is going to play a huge role,” Yeagley said. “I think for Jeremiah, he’d be the first to say he didn’t have the best weekend overall, but he still was really effective. We have really high expectations for him only still into his sophomore year and not starting last year.”
For Gutjahr, the expectations are there for him, but he doesn’t try to think about them. He knows what he needs to do, and, in 2016, his coaches and teammates will continue to push him and believe in him, and that’s exactly what he wants.
“I just try to keep working hard and hold myself to high standards,” Gutjahr said. “I’m pretty internally motivated, so I want to give it the best I can for them, but they push me and they hold me accountable, and that’s big. They believe in me which is huge.”