Britton Fischer on choosing a pro contract over college, managing a long commute, and his goals for the season

In a span of 3 short weeks in 2021, The North Carolina Football Club signed 3 teenagers to professional contracts. But while there are a number of interviews and articles written about Cole Frame and Nick Holliday, very little is written about Britton Fischer. Britton joined me for an interview recently to tell me and other North Carolina FC fans what he’s all about, how he handled a long commute from Greenville, NC every day to Raleigh, and what his future plans are.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer during pre-game warmups at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On his youth soccer career

I started when I was six or so, and I played for this thing called Future Stars. It’s like a rec program in Greenville, NC at my local club: PGSA (Pitt Greenville Soccer Association). At U12 I joined the PGSA Academy program, which is a little different from the NCFC Academy program. For my first year, it’s kind of like everybody’s put in a pool and you’re just separated based off numbers. There wasn’t an A team or a B team. For my 13 year, they started to actually making selections and the pool wasn’t huge so we only had two teams per age group.

So how did you make the leap to NCFC?

I made it on the 13s and 14s at PGSA Academy and then in my 15th year I decided to make the move to NCFC. Rich Flaim [the current ECNL National Boys Director] was my coach at ODP one year and he told me that if I wanted to try a shot at a Raleigh club, he could help me out. So I got a tryout and trained with the NCFC North Academy team for a while.

They told me they could see me playing here, but they were closing down to one team and that it would step on some toes if they brought in a new guy that’s kind of borderline. So instead I got an Elite tryout, which was the second team at the time and they told me they could see me fitting in here.

We went up there and decided to make the transition to NCFC. The first year I was on the Elite team and the next year, the ECNL team and then DA after that.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer arrives with this family before a match at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On his 90 minute commute (each way) to trainings

When I first made the switch and first told my parents I wanted to start taking soccer a little more serious and play in Raleigh, they said, “Alright. We’ll drive you up there until you get your license. And as soon as you get your license, we’re done. And if we hear any complaints from this time until you get your license, we’re done. The first time you complain about driving up there, we’re cutting the deal.” So I had to grind it out and balance school with training.

It was a blessing and a curse. It was obviously a long drive but that hour and a half to sit in the car with nothing else to do makes you a pretty good student.

You know? It was very difficult. There were some times where I had to leave school early. I was getting checked out of school once or twice a week to go train. I had an hour and a half in the car and when my homework was bad from eighth grade until I got my license in my sophomore year—that’s when the homework was really bad. I just got it done in the car while my parents were driving me.

It was a blessing and a curse. It was obviously a long drive but that hour and a half to sit in the car with nothing else to do makes you a pretty good student.

You were doing that 90 minute commute last season as a Pro right?

This year is the first year I’m living up here. I got part of my contract to get in the apartments here so this is the first year I’m not making the drive.

You were in your Senior Year of high school last year as well. How did you manage that?

I did a lot of work beforehand before this pro stuff came up. I was just managing it like normal with the Academy stuff. I was like any other student playing soccer in the afternoon after school. I made sure to load up early. I took a lot of stuff my sophomore year and got most of my classes out of the way. In my Junior and Senior year did classes in the community college through a dual-enrollment program in our high school. They were a piece of cake. Because of all of these credits, I only needed to take 2 classes my final semester. I was lucky to get most of my stuff out of the way before any pro stuff came up.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer during a match for the NCFC U23 team at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On signing his USL Academy contract with North Carolina FC…

In March of 2021, you were one of 15 NCFC Academy players signed to USL Academy contracts with North Carolina FC. What was that like?

I honestly was kind of surprised when I got invited to it because at the time I was 17 playing up with the 19s Academy with Coach Milazzo. I was thinking that they said they were gonna take 5 or 6 guys so I thought they were only going to take the true 19 guys. When I got the email, I was super excited because I wasn’t expecting it at all.

and then quickly seeing minutes.

It was interesting because I saw myself at the level, but it wasn’t really reality that I was going to be playing soon. At the beginning we have Max (Flick) and Malick (Mbaye) and these are our guys and I’m still an Academy player. So if there is a moment, you’re there and ready. But if not, you’re kind of just chilling for right now. I think we had a couple injuries and we were short and then all of a sudden I was starting. I went from just playing for like five minutes to starting and playing 90. So yeah, it was a big leap.

On March 22, 2021, you made your professional debut in the 86th minute against Richmond.

Yeah. And then a week later I end up starting at Greenville.

As a high school student committed to go to college you mentally don’t really think about how close you are to really achieving a contract.

On choosing to sign his Pro contract over attending Duke

You play a season and get a lot more minutes than maybe you anticipated playing for the first team. And then you graduate high school and now put in front of you is your first pro contract. Did you think about college? Or did you think about going pro right away?

I’ve had this question a couple times, so I’m not sure if many people know, but I was actually committed to Duke before I signed my contract. I was committed for maybe a month or so. And I committed right as the stuff started rolling with the first team and I started to play. I committed to Duke and I was really set on going there. I really liked the school and the coach and I was really set on going to college. Mentally, you don’t really think about how close you are to really achieving a contract.

As soon as the contract came around, it was really a tricky choice. But my plan was to go to college to try to go pro. I was looking at my pathway. If I went to college, a perfect scenario would be 2 years and then maybe get an MLS contract in the draft. College is a good place to play but they are only playing half a year. For NCFC, a good scenario is a strong season or maybe a good season and a half and then making a move somewhere. At the end of the day, I chose the pro route.

Are your aspirations to play in MLS?

I want to get to the highest level possible. There are European leagues and there’s the MLS so my goal is to get to whatever the highest level is possible.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer and his roommate, Jordan Skelton, before training at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On rooming with Jordan Skelton

Jordan is the biggest extrovert. He talks to everybody has something to say to everybody and includes everybody. I think that’s been one of the reason that we come together so well.

I started picking up a little bit of his slang that he uses sometimes. I’ll pick up on some of his words sometimes. He tries to get me to try some of his food. He talks about beans on toast all the time.

You guys are both defenders. Do you review things together?

That’s the biggest difference this year is when we come back from games, Jordan’s really big on watching stuff and going over it. At the beginning of the season, we’d watch every practice together on TV. If I have any questions about games, he’s definitely been a help looking at some of that stuff with me.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer during arrivals before a match at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On planning outfits for arrivals

So I’m gonna be honest. I try really hard on my outfits. I’m not gonna lie. I try hard but I’m not very good at it yet. I’m getting there. I do all this talking before the games. I’m telling my parents I’m gonna do something special this time. And I get up there to the plate and just freeze. I just keep walking straight with no motion. Usually before a game, I’ll go to the mall and get like a nice little outfit or something like that.

On his Red Card in Omaha

Do you want to talk about the Omaha game?

Sure, we can talk about that.

Obviously a frustrating game from the start. Some bad lucks and bad bounces. I totally could see as the game was progressing the pervasive frustration with the team and it can be symbolized by your booking at the end of the game. What are your thoughts on that? How did that all unfold?

The first 15 minutes didn’t feel real. We were getting run all over. It felt like we were chasing’em around, you know, we were 3-0 down after 20 minutes. But once we got settled in, it felt fine. We started playing— we had a good chance. If we score one goal in the first half we are right back in it. That’s just the team we are like, if we settle in and start playing. Like the Madison game at home we played ok. And then in the last 20 minutes, all of a sudden it’s like a light bulb turned on. So I wasn’t worried about the result necessarily, but the first 15 minutes felt bad. And then in the last bit, Flores got sent off and now we’re playing with 10 men. All of a sudden we went from “maybe we can get back into the game in the second half” to now we’re struggling again.

I felt like I was having a decent game to that point and then one bad mistake and all of a sudden you’re in a bad spot. So all I was thinking was “don’t let him score”. I wasn’t trying to be malicious with a tackle or anything or grab him. I just kinda scooped him out of the way.  At the time, I thought it was a decent tackle. I thought I kind of got in front of him and moved the ball way. Then the ref blew the whistle and all the frustration of everything built up from there just released. I got the double yellow because I kicked the ball away. What can you do?

So what’s it like then when you’re on a road trip and you guys played Wednesday, but you had to sit that one out. What do you do differently when you know you’re not getting in the game, how does that work?

You use the hotel gym and coach check’s fitness. So me and Flores had a very unpleasant experience the next day. We trained one day before the game, it was a 40 minute training. I think we ran for 50 minutes. So it was pretty tough. Those four days of travel and just hanging out around the hotel are the worst. Especially when you know you’re not gonna play because there’s no field and there’s no equipment. There is just fitness.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer during a match at Richmond, Virginia.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On playing in transition

Recently, a video was shared of a specific play of yours during the Central Valley game. When I interviewed Coach Milazzo, one of the things that he talked about is stressing this kind of transition play and how that opens up all these other types of angles. Tell me your thought process around that play.

That’s always been a part of my game. People always talk about how big I am but I still think I have a decent technical ability, especially dribbling and driving into space. WhenI was playing for the Elite team, I was playing in the midfield so I was on the ball a lot. And then for the ECNL team I was playing left back and I was getting asked to drive at people and dribble because it was a strength in my game. I feel like I’m a little quicker on the ball than I am off it.

We talked about using you offensively in corner kicks. You need to be super fit to quickly defend in transition.

I’ve been hitting the elliptical about every day because I have a little ankle injury, so I can’t get on the treadmill too much. I don’t want to do any hard planting.

Fun Facts About Britton

Favorite player? Favorite team?

I like Zlatan Ibrahimović. He was my favorite player so I kind of took on PSG but it’s not anything crazy.

What’s your go-to meal on match days?

There’s a Jersey Mike’s down the road and I pick up a medium sized 7 which is a Turkey and Cheese and I get it “Mike’s Way” because i like some onions, lettuce, banana peppers, and pickles.

What’s your pregame music choice?

All rap music. There’s a lot of guys on our team that like house music and disco music and stuff like that. On my playlist it’s all rap like Pop Smoke and Lil Uzi Vert.

Does your family get to see some of your games?

They only live an hour and a half away, so they come to just about every game. My Mom, my Dad, and my sister. If I’m starting they invite friends to come out to watch too.

North Carolina FC player, Britton Fischer walking out of the tunnel at the start of a match at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Photo: ©Gregory Ng of Follow Greg Sports

On Britton’s goals for the season

I was definitely wishing to get my first professional goal this year. That would’ve been sick. Outside of that is just progression. Basically the only goal I had coming into the season is leave the season better than how I started it.

More Britton Fischer

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