By Rubin E. Grant
Nathan Tozzi simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity of his young life.
So rather than going to college in the fall, the just-graduated senior soccer player from Indian Springs will play for the Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship league.
Tozzi already was on the Birmingham Legion FC Academy team, but as an elite player he will play with the Legion FC first team so he can be exposed to a professional environment and further his development.
Tozzi said Legion FC president and general manager Jay Heaps saw him playing for the club team and offered him a developmental deal with the Legion.
“I’m very excited,” Tozzi said. “I’ve been around the Legion since it’s been up and running. There are no guarantees and I hope to get a chance to play in some games, but I’ll do whatever they ask me, whether that’s helping in the community or just training with them.”
Tozzi’s dad, Indian Springs coach Rik Tozzi, said the deal will not affect Nathan Tozzi’s college eligibility.
“He’ll be a pro-team member, but he’s definitely going to go to college in the fall of 2023,” Rik Tozzi said. “I’m really excited about him playing for the Legion. He couldn’t be around two better people than Jay Heaps and Tommy Soehn, who are so character- and community-driven, which are really important to me.”
Soehn is the Legion’s head coach and technical director.
“Nate will be in a place where he can ply his craft and become a better player,” added Rik Tozzi, who played professionally in England.
Taking Indian Springs to Victory
Nathan Tozzi is fresh off helping Indian Springs win back-to-back state soccer championships for the first time in school history. He scored the only goal in Indian Springs’ 1-0 victory over Russellville in the AHSAA 2022 Class 4A-5A boys championship game last month as Indian Springs finished with a 21-2-5 record.
In the semifinals, he scored a goal in regulation and another in a shootout as Indian Springs knocked off Montgomery Academy 3-2 (4-3 in shootout).
“It’s crazy to think we won back-to-back state championships,” Nathan Tozzi said. “At the beginning of the year, we didn’t just want to make it back to the final four but wanted to win a second straight championship, and we were able to pull it off.”
Nathan Tozzi, a midfielder, finished the season with 38 goals and 20 assists. He had 75 goals and 52 assists for his career.
“He’s a physical specimen, about 6-foot-3¼,” Rik Tozzi said. “His engine never quits every time he’s on the field and in the game. He was the hardest-working player on the team. He matured as a team leader and he was great on the ball and great off the ball. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Nathan Tozzi was one of the three Indian Springs players who were selected to the 2022 Alabama High School Soccer Coaches Super All-State first team. The others were forward Jackson Nabors and goalkeeper Sims Tosh.
Three players from Class 6A state champion Mountain Brook also were tabbed for the team, keeper Reed Harradine and midfielders Jack Heaps and Joe Armstrong. Homewood defender Landgren Fox and Briarwood midfielder Leib Matthias also were voted first-team.
Nabors (Davidson) and Tosh (Oglethorpe) are both headed to college to play soccer, but Nathan Tozzi is happy to wait another year for his collegiate opportunity. His older brother Jim Tozzi plays soccer at Sewanee.
“To finish high school and then start training with the Legion immediately is amazing,” Nathan Tozzi said. “I think training with professional players and learning from them will put me in a better position to play at a better school.”