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Former WVU Soccer player Ray Gaddis talks about what West Virginia means to him and why he decided to come back to WVU for a master's degree while playing for the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.

The Philadelphia Union

“Growing up, it was always an aspiration to play professional soccer…coming out of college playing for Coach Marlon LeBlanc, he definitely prepared not only myself but other players after me to come to step into a professional environment.”

Raymon “Ray” Gaddis grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, knowing he wanted to be a professional soccer player from the time he was three years old. In 2008, he chose to attend West Virginia University because he wanted to play soccer on the national stage against some of the best collegiate soccer teams in the country - in what was then the Big East.

After receiving second team all-Big East honors as a junior and senior at WVU, Gaddis played for the Reading United (a Philadelphia Union affiliate) for one year before making his professional debut with the Philadelphia Union in 2012.

“I’ve been in Philadelphia my entire adult life; it’s near and dear to me now. As I’ve gotten older, I become more and more thankful for these experiences I get to have.”

It wasn’t long before Ray and the Union were joined by a fellow Mountaineer, Jack Elliot, who was drafted in 2017.

“It was good to start with someone here who shared the same experiences as me. We’d both gone through Morgantown and we both had something in common there – he was able to help break me into professional sports,” said Elliot.

Now as the all-time leader in minutes played and total appearances for the Philadelphia Union, Ray Gaddis has returned to West Virginia University to pursue a master’s degree online when he isn’t on the soccer field.

“I’m doing my master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications. I’m set to graduate in December (2019),” said Gaddis, “It really came as a decision from the Lord as I prayed about just made sense to go back to WVU.”

Set to graduate this year, Gaddis says the Union have made it easy for him to go back to school to earn a degree.

“The Union have been pretty supportive; the team doesn’t know much about it…until now I kept it close to the chest and just went about my business as we’ve had a successful season not only last year but this season as well while working on my master’s degree. Going back to school has allowed me to focus on different aspects of my life and helped me to be proactive instead of reactive.”

When asked about his experience as a student at West Virginia University, Gaddis simply replied, “It’s probably one of the best things, if not the best thing that I’ve done in my life, making that decision to go to West Virginia…those country roads will always be in my heart.”