By Benjamin Peacock
Over the course of the next several weeks leading up to the season, I am conducting one-on-one interviews with players to publish what I hope will be fun, entertaining, and informative reads on our team. Very often fans are removed from the athletes they cheer, so I hope this series of publications will help Rangers fans connect to their team in a meaningful way.
Utah native Jaden Hoth has had an eclectic journey in soccer from his days wearing a bumblebee stylized kit as a kid to his current stag logo with the Little Rock Rangers. His story in the sport began as he tagged along to his brother’s games, which his mom coached. She was a player herself in high school so the love of the sport is very much a family affair. In fact, Jaden’s mom was his coach until he turned 18. Jaden attributes full credit to his brother and mother for his strong soccer, and general work, ethic.
“Instead of always putting me down, he always pushed me to be better and treated me like I was the best. He tried to launch me ahead of himself,” Jaden said of his brother Colton.
For his mom, it was always important to keep healthy balances; to not give one thing all his attention at the expense of other experiences in life. In other words, there’s more to life than soccer. So she pushed him to develop other skills, to surround himself with people of different interests, and even made him learn piano.
“She wouldn’t let me practice soccer until I did piano,” Jaden recounted.
Jaden’s first time to try out for a team came at 8, when he wore the aforementioned yellow and black kits of the Logan Lightning. It was then he was watching the likes of Zinedine Zidane win the France vs Brazil World Cup final in 1998. Living in small town Utah, his high school team was kind of so-so but he did earn MVP honors. After high school, he spent a year in Arizona, then moved on to a junior college in Iowa. His team placed 5th in the Junior College Nationals and Jaden himself had a couple of American All State honors notched into his belt.
About that time, Jaden was planning to go play in Kansas City but had a good buddy recruited by the University of Central Arkansas. With that association, he visited Conway and was enamored with the area. He signed with UCA and played while going to physical therapy school. He is now a practicing PT for Baptist Health North Little Rock.
Even though he is in the career stage of life now, he is not done with soccer. Jaden comes to his fourth season as a midfielder with the Rangers in 2019. He regularly keeps up with his athletic disciplines, often training and drilling with team captain Nick Doyle on the fields of UCA. Like some of his other teammates who reside in Conway, Don Pepe’s comes in handy for the protein/carb loading burritos. On game days, Jaden adopts a “look good, play good” attitude. Seems to be working!
Outside of soccer, Jaden has a long growing fondness for hockey (which certainly perked the interest of this writer). Growing up in Utah certainly led to his interest, and he has even been thinking on getting a team together in Little Rock! Jaden also had some big talk about his golf game. Okay not really, but he mentioned he does enjoy it, along with a little tennis.
Jaden repeatedly described the Rangers as one of the most organized and professionally run organizations around. He pays it forward to the Ranger’s academy, teaching and developing skills in the Elite Performance Academy to boys and girls 8 to 14 years old, as well as the Young Bucks, who are in the 4 to 6 year old range.
He remembers the first season well, describing how it charged him to see the large crowd accumulating and how loud they were getting as the team took to the pitch. “It blew us all out of the water,” he explained. “The atmosphere was awesome. We ended up winning and when we scored our first goal the crowd was so loud! I’d never played in front of a crowd like that.”
Now Jaden, like his teammates, is looking ahead to 2019 which includes the team’s first bid in the US Open Cup. That’s coming off a season where the team blasted through to the National Premier League Soccer’s South Regional Final.
“I think we got a taste of the caliber [team] we’ll be playing against when we played Miami FC 2. All the guys, not just me, are focusing on making sure we come in fit this season,” he said of his preparation for the tournament. Jaden’s family is ready with travel plans depending on where the coin flip lands the first round match, and he has already taken the entire week off from work.
So what can be said of Jaden apart from soccer and career? He was put through some rapid fire questions to find out.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I like cottage cheese on my mashed potatoes.
Who are your MLS and overseas teams?
Real Salt Lake and growing up I liked Manchester United.
What is your all-time favorite movie?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Where’s your favorite place to hang out in Little Rock?
War Memorial Stadium.
If you had the day off tomorrow with no training, no worries, no ramifications, how would you spend it?
I’d probably hit the golf course then get a round of tennis in. Take my girlfriend out to a nice dinner. We love Bossa Nova.
Whose concert would you travel a long way to see?
Coldplay or Odesza.
What is one superpower you wish you had?
Time travel. I’d first go back and bet to get money, then I’d go to ancient Rome.
What is your spirit animal?
Jaden has made the rounds in his soccer career, from Utah to Arizona to Iowa to Arkansas. He’s played on several levels, thus far culminating in his role for the Rangers. He is a midfielder who just plain works hard, makes no mistakes, and doesn’t get pushed around. (But could maybe work on his cellys when he scores.) When he had the chance to fly out to LA for a combine a couple years ago, he noted that our team had become a major talking point amongst other NPSL players, particularly the home match attendance and atmosphere.
“We have the best fans in the league hands down. When I step out on the field, I have that in my mind to represent this city.”