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Jamul Soccer Player Destined for Greatness


Story and photo by Ron Logan


April 1, 2011 (Jamul) – If you were a die-hard indoor soccer fan in the early 1990s you may remember the name Herb Duryea. His story was quite an amazing one and it created quite a buzz back in the day. 


 Now, his legend lives on--at an ostrich farm in Jamul.


While on a backpacking trip in the Himalayas during the spring of 1991, Duryea was discovered by the legendary San Diego Sockers phenom Juli Veee. Veee remembers the event like it was yesterday.


"He was kicking the ball so hard he was tearing the covers off the balls," Veee recalls. "There was this pile of soccer ball covers in the corner of the village. The villagers would have to repair the balls during the week and five days later they were all skinned and piled in the corner again."


There were different theories as to why Duryea possessed such a powerful shot. One suggested that it was due to the elevation, that the thin air and his strong lungs somehow formed him into a soccer kicking deity. Others said it was genetic. His mother thought it was because he was struck by lightning as a child.


Veee scouted Duryea, a rare Albino Sherpa, and brought him to the Sockers as a free-agent in the summer of 1991.


Duryea joined the pre-season closed-door practices at the San Diego Indoor Soccer Center in North Park and made an immediate impression on head coach Ron Newman and assistant Erich Geyer as well as on the dasherboards.


"He was hitting the ball so hard that it was cracking the boards at our facility," said Tom Higginson, owner of the North Park practice center. "Neighbors were complaining about the thumping sounds. We clocked his shot at over 100 miles per hour."


The story came to an abrupt end when Duryea dislocated his ankle during a scrimmage which ended his career prior to the start of the 1991-92 season.


Now, twenty years later, a new chapter in the Duryea saga is being written, but this time by his grandson, Jacob Duryea.


At just 9 years old, Duryea is already being watched by U.S. Soccer scouts. As a forward for the local AYSO Region 511 team he has already set team and region records. Although his shot is far short of 100 mph, his technique is thought to be among the finest seen in North America since 1970.


The younger Duryea was born and raised in rural Jamul. As soon as he could walk he began kicking an ostrich egg around the family ranch house located just east of Honey Springs Road. "We were amazed," said his mother, Linda Duryea. "Jacob had been kicking this egg around the house for about an hour. He never broke it. He dribbled it up and down stairs. His touch on the ball is incredible."


Former US Youth Soccer's Region IV scout Malcolm Reed agrees. "Duryea is phenomenal," said Reed. "I've scouted thousands of kids but I've never seen a player this age show such composure on the field. Jacob ranks higher than Vidal Fernandez and Freddy Adu in technical skill. His SPARQ numbers would be impressive for a player twice his age. He is already hitting the ball as hard as some of the pro players. It is conceivable that he could be playing for his country by the time he reaches 13."


Despite the interest being shown by the United States Soccer Federation, Duryea is being kept focused on the more practical aspects of life by his parents. "We know he will do just fine with soccer as he grows older," said his mother, "but there is more to life than sports."


Jacob is homeschooled and consistently scores in the top five percent in standardized testing. "He has daily chores to tend to, including feeding the ostriches, chasing away the gophers and snakes, and keeping a fresh coat of paint on the coops," his mother said. "He is also learning to operate the backhoe and is progressing with the metalsmithing as well."


There is no doubt that being raised on the family farm has contributed to Duryea's work ethic. That, combined with the soccer genetics he received from Grandpa Herb, has well positioned Duryea to break records in soccer. It is likely that Steele Canyon High School will end up with a Parade All-American--and attending university will definitely be done on a full-ride scholarship.


When asked why he doesn't move off the farm and train full-time for soccer, young Duryea replied, "Until my little sister, Sophia, is old enough to do my chores, I'll be staying at home. What are you going to do? Let the ostriches starve?”



To read more April Fool’s Day “news” from East County Magazine’s special April 1st, 2011 edition, please visit:


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