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Hometown Advantage

Ahwatukee's Tate Schmitt brings his fancy footwork to Phoenix Rising

Article by Rebecca L. Rhoades

Photography by Ashley Orellana, Phoenix Rising

Originally published in Ahwatukee City Lifestyle

Growing up in Ahwatukee, Tate Schmitt used to dream of playing soccer just like his older brothers did. His oldest played for Fort Lewis College in Colorado, and his middle brother was on the state’s first pro team, Arizona United.

Schmitt took up the sport at age 3 and, over the years, could be found kicking the ball around Pecos Park and Tempe Sports Complex. After two years at Desert Vista High School, he transferred to Real Salt Lake Academy, the developmental department of the Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit, Real Salt Lake (RLS). The move paid off, and in 2019, the now 24-year-old signed with the pro team.

This season brought Schmitt back to Arizona to play for the hometown club, Phoenix Rising. On loan from RLS, he’s been playing left back and as a central defender. “Being able to help the growth of the game in Arizona is awesome. As a kid who grew up here, I want the team to continue to win games and trophies and increase the recognition of the players in the state who hopefully will make it to the MLS level,” he says. “Phoenix Rising is a top team in the West, so be to be able to say that I was raised in the state and am now playing for its professional soccer team is a proud and humbling experience.”

Coming back to Arizona has allowed Schmitt to reconnect with his childhood stomping grounds. When he’s not on the field, the elite athlete takes advantage of Ahwatukee’s mountain surroundings. “There are so many activities that you can do within the community,” he says. “I love the outdoors. I like to hike Telegraph Pass to stay in shape.” Schmitt also enjoys dining out at Nello’s and, like any boy who grows up in the desert, searching for scorpions with a black light.

But the biggest thing he says about being back in the Tuke, “is just spending time with my family.”