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Five questions with Crew defender Julius James.

1. If you weren’t playing soccer, what would you be doing with your life?
“Wow. This is my dream, man, from when I started playing and loving it. I started playing when I was 12 so when I started loving it at 13, 14, I never thought about anything else. I’m good at talking to people and I love meeting new people. I have a major and a minor in resource economics and geography so maybe I’d be coaching. I don’t know. I’d be coaching or cooking. I like cooking.

“This is going to sound really stupid, but I never gave it any thought. I put all my eggs in this basket. I have my education so not all my eggs – I didn’t go pro right away – but I didn’t give it much thought.”

2. When did you come to the United States and why?
“I came to the United States when I was 18. It was a stepping stone. I didn’t really plan on graduating, but my parents wanted me to so I had to honor them and take the opportunity of higher education in the United States. It’s not comparable to many things, so it’s a full scholarship and I took the opportunity well and I took care of my parents and their wishes and now I’m taking care of my dreams.”

3. How did you end up at the University of Connecticut?
“They recruited me, but the funny thing is there were two Trinidadians who played at UConn before me and they won a national championship, Brent Rhyham and Darren Lewis, and I looked up to both of them when I was growing up, especially Brent. I always watched TV and it would be snowing and you could see their breath. I was like, ‘Why not go to a school that’s going to be cold to prepare myself?’ UConn was my dream school and one day they came to see us play and my dream came true.

“I’m still living my dream to this day.”

4. You’ve been traded several times. What’s the hardest part about going through that?
“It’s the feeling of being rejected and not wanted, but the more times you get traded you realize it’s that the other team wants you more than the team that has you. You get to flip it a little bit in your mind and say, ‘Wow, this team really wants me and this team really didn’t value me that much.’ You flip it like that.

“The other hard thing is the first couple times I was in a relationship so if you’re in a relationship it’s very difficult. I still thank God I didn’t have a family. A wife and kids, I can only assume it’s even more difficult with that.”

5. In the last year, you’d had shoulder surgery and suffered a collapsed lung. What have those experiences taught you about yourself?
“I kept my faith during all of this. I believe in God strongly and with prayers and belief and faith, I think I made it through. I fought it along the way and I’ve struggled mentally and stuff like that. This is no doubt one of the most difficult years of my career, if not the (most difficult) with injuries and everything. Sometimes you substitute your pain and express it on the field, so when you’re injured you’re not able to do that. You have to pull your strength and exhaust your energy so that you’re not spending time thinking about stuff.

“I kept my faith, man, and God definitely helped me through this. I learned that I’m a pretty strong person.”