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USL Academy Jul 13, 2023

Richmond Kickers sign 16-year-old Nicholas Simmonds to USL Academy contract

RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers announced that midfielder Nicholas Simmonds has signed a USL Academy contract for the remainder of the 2023 season, pending league and federation approval.

“Nicholas is a talented young player with a big ceiling,” Richmond Kickers’ Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky said. “We feel he is ready for the day-in, day-out rigors of training with professional players. He is a gifted player with good passing range and the ability to unlock defenses. He comes from a strong soccer family and we are very happy to add his acumen to the ranks here.

“The next couple years are going to be exciting with young talented players chasing the game with the Richmond Kickers. If you are good enough, you are old enough. We expect Nicholas to challenge for minutes after he returns from the national finals with Richmond United.”

Simmonds becomes the second second-generation player to don the Kickers’ shirt after his father Gregory Simmonds previously played for the club in 2003. The Midlothian native is the fifth player with Richmond United pedigree to sign a USL Academy contract with the Kickers during the 2023 season.

Now, Simmonds relishes the opportunity to represent his hometown on the professional stage.

“When I first had a talk with Darren about the possibility of earning an academy contract, it was straightforward and exciting,” Simmonds said. “I’ve lived in Richmond my whole life and to sign for the team I grew up around is something special. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.

“To be able to compete at a high level and push myself every day without having to leave town is very special to me. I hope that more kids from the club can take advantage of this path.”

Simmonds joins the Kickers already having a penchant for creativity in the center of the park and making forward runs. A towering presence at 6-foot-3, he looks to create chances for both himself and his teammates to score.

“We are gradually starting to see early glimpses of the benefits of our recently established partnership with Richmond United to have a full pathway for players to get after their goals and pursue their dreams right here in Richmond,” Richmond Kickers’ Head Assistant Coach and Richmond United Technical Director, Mika Elovaara said. “I have observed Nicholas’s potential for a few years now and am thrilled to see this next step on his journey.

“It is important to keep in mind that having players like Nicholas and Landon [Johnson] immersed in both the pro environment and the academy environment benefits everyone, not just the specific players and our team, but the greater RVA soccer community as well.

“Nicholas is a young man whose family values align with our core pillars, and his soccer potential should make our fans thrilled to see him on the ball. Beyond helping our pro team strive for championships, these young men help us reinforce and deepen our shared culture of humility, hard work, ambition and the pursuit of excellence. I am looking forward to working with Nicholas on and off the field every single day.”

A fixture in the Richmond youth soccer scene along with many of his family members, he is the brother of Kameron Simmonds who is a Richmond United alum, a member of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers varsity soccer team, and a member of the Jamaican women’s national team who will compete in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The midfielder will look to make his mark in the Kickers’ first team as he returns from the national finals with Richmond United.

“My goal is to continue to push myself and my teammates and to be an important part of this team,” Simmonds said.

Simmonds is available for selection for the Kickers’ international friendly this upcoming Tuesday, July 18 when the Kickers host Guatemalan Giants and CONCACAF Champions, Comunicaciones FC.

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