Alex Dixon has fond memories wearing the color orange. His first soccer team, the Alief Squirrels, wore orange and served as his introduction to the game of soccer. 16 years later, Dixon will don a new orange kit, and although the game is still the same, the stakes are much higher.
After three years at the University of North Carolina, the Bay City native and graduate of Atascocita High School in Humble will have the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to represent his hometown, as a member of the Houston Dynamo.
“It’s a dream come true,” Dixon said. “I love the fact that I am playing for my hometown team, which is also such a good organization. It’s great that my family is able to come watch me play, and I could not ask to be in a better situation.”
Growing up in Houston without a professional soccer team, there were fewer opportunities for youth soccer players to get noticed, Dixon recalls. When the Dynamo moved to Houston from San Jose in December 2005, that all changed.
“When they came from San Jose, I thought it was great having a professional soccer team here we could root for,” Dixon said. “When the Academy started up, it really opened a lot of players' eyes. We knew that if we worked hard, we would have a chance to get recognized and become a professional soccer player.”
Recognition for Dixon, however, was never hard to come by. As a 15-year-old, he was selected for the U.S. U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla. While there, Dixon earned Parade and NSCAA High School All-America honors. Dixon spent a year-and-a-half in Florida and attributes much of his early development to his time spent there.
“It was hard being only 15 and leaving my family to play soccer full-time,” he said. “On the other hand, it was a great experience, and practicing six times a week made me a better player.”
Dixon’s mother, Marisa Parks, who was in attendance Wednesday to see her son introduced as a Houston Dynamo player for the first time, was reluctant to let Alex leave for Florida but knew it was the only way for him to pursue his dream.
“It was hard for both of us,” she said. “It was something that I always said I wouldn’t let him do, but when it came up, I knew I had to let him go because it was his dream. It was hard, and whenever he came home, we cried, but each time it got a little easier.”
After a year-and-a-half, Dixon left the residency program and returned to Texas. His first call was to James Clarkson, who had recently taken the position as Director of Youth Development for the Houston Dynamo. Dixon was eager to join Clarkson and the Dynamo Academy because of the opportunities that he knew would be available to him.
“I played for the Academy for 10 months before going to college,” Dixon said. “It was great to be able to play with the best players in Houston. James and the rest of his coaching staff taught me a lot, and I am grateful for all they have done for me.”
Although Dixon credits the coaches in residency and the Academy with his development on the field, he is quick to credit his mother for his development off it.
“She was definitely a soccer mom growing up, driving four hours to tournaments or 45 minutes for practices,” he said. “I owe her a lot. My family has been with me through thick and thin. I credit them with helping me as a person and a player. I think I have the best family in the world.”
With the contract signing behind him, Dixon can now concentrate on his future: improving his game and attempting to earn playing time in his rookie season.
“My strongest attributes are my pace and my ability to go at players and create for others,” he said. “I still need to work on my defensive game, but I’m just ready to get started and learn from the other players on the team. We have some great players on this team, with Brian Ching, Brad Davis, and Geoff Cameron, and I’m ready to learn from them and get my career started on the right foot.”