WOOD RIVER JCT. — Since he first started playing soccer as a child, Devan Jessop has always wanted to play at the Division I collegiate level.
Jessop, a first-team Divsion II selection as a center back for the Chariho High team this season, will be heading to Maine for the next step in his journey.
He will be playing for a year at Bridgton Academy in North Bridgeton, Maine, starting in the fall. Bridgton is a postgraduate one-year boarding school.
"I want to get my grades up, improve my SAT score and prepare myself for Division I soccer," Jessop said. "Next next, I hope to be making contact with Division I coaches."
Jessop was approached by Bridton Academy coach Jim Hopkins while playing at the Global Premier Soccer March Madness College Showcase tournament in Massachusetts with his club team in early March.
"He had my information, I don't know how, but he had it and he talked with me," Jessop said.
Bridgton plays in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council in the fall against the likes of Brewester Academy, Avon Old Farms and Loomis Chaffee.
The team will also play junior varsity squads from some Maine colleges.
In November, the team attends two college showcase tournaments.
In the winter, the team participates in futsal training, which involves playing indoors on a gym floor with a smaller ball that does not bounce as much. Jessop said it helps develop foot skills.
After the Christmas break, training starts for the spring outdoor season. The schedule will feature Division III colleges and community colleges, Jessop said.
"I feel like I have to improve on my strength and be more fit to play at the college level," Jessop ssaid.
Jessop stands 5-foot-10 and weights 140 pounds. He expects to be playing on the back line at Bridgton just like he did at Chariho.
"I would like to get to the 160 mark for college," Jessop said.
Stone Hill, Franklin Pierce, Southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island College all expressed some interest in Jessop. But he wanted to pursue playing at the D-I level.
"Soccer has been a big part of my life. I started playing when I was five," Jessop said. "I have a lifetime of memories playing with my friends, some of the best memories of my life. I just had that desire to play Division I."