Column: Theo Ottosson trying to join ranks of famous parents

No Comments

Theo Ottosson is the reigning Mission League player of the year in soccer from Harvard-Westlake. The only problem is finding space at home for his award.

His parents have way more trophies.

His dad, Paul, has won three Academy Awards for sound editing and sound design, including for the 2008 movie “The Hurt Locker.” His mother, Karen, is one of the world’s most accomplished musicians playing the erhu, a Chinese two-stringed instrument. As a boy, Ottosson used to travel to Europe and Asia watching his mother give concerts.

Ottosson, 16, is just getting started earning trophies and plaques. He’s a 6-foot-1, 160-pound junior striker who scored 26 goals as a sophomore in leading Harvard-Westlake to the Mission League championship. In his second game this season, he scored four goals. His coach, Mike Erush, said, “He wants to play at the highest level possible.”

During an afternoon when school was out, Ottosson showed up to practice after taking a driver education class and also checked on his fantasy football team that includes Patrick Mahomes at quarterback and Ja’Marr Chase at receiver. Knowing football and fútbol is just one interesting aspect of his personality.

But make no mistake about which sport he likes best.

“I love soccer,” he said.

He’s played since he was 4, and his passion and commitment come through when he explains some of the sport’s intricacies. It’s like he’s trying to solve a Rubik’s cube.

“I t’s the greatest thing,” he said. “Once you really get into it tactically and you can see past just people running around chasing this little piece of plastic, it’s such a fascinating sport to understand and learn. You can’t practice a play. It’s not like basketball, where you can manipulate people. Every single moment you’re in the game, you have to be making your own decisions.

“There’s no coach who can tell you, ‘Do exactly this because we know how the defense is going to react.’ It’s way more creative because every player when you get the ball, you have three or more options. Almost every single play when they have the ball is like being a quarterback. They have to make their own decisions and that’s going to contribute to the success or fall of the team.

“It’s the most similar sport to chess, in my opinion. In chess, you can never practice for a scenario. Every game you play is going to be different. That’s the same with soccer. You end up in different positions and it’s super fascinating for me how to exploit different scenarios. It’s like a new challenge.”

Ottosson has the size and athleticism to succeed in other sports. Could he have been a good defensive back in football?

“I never asked my parents, but I don’t know if they’d be happy me throwing my head at other people,” he said.

Erush said, “He’s a soccer junkie. He wants to learn, he’s hungry for information. If he scores, he wants to score again.”

He’s also one of the few top players given permission to compete both in high school and in the MLS Next club competition. He wanted to keep playing high school soccer, so that helped. He missed several games this month playing for his club team but is back trying to help Harvard-Westlake as it moves from Division 3 to Division 1.

As his soccer skills keep improving, combined with his talent and passion, the trophies figure to keep coming. And he always can hold his father’s Oscar for motivation, though it comes with a penalty.

“If I touch it, I have to polish it,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *