skip navigation

10 Years of SIMA: Jackson Walti

By SIMA, 01/05/24, 9:45PM EST


Nomadic Travels

St. Augustine, Florida: a historical city in the northeastern coast of the state. The city of St.Augustine's historical significance to the state of Florida is shown not only in its beautiful sights and forts but the stories of battle that they represent.  There is no better place to start our journey for SIMA Class of 2018 Rep, Jackson Walti.

Born in St. Augustine, Florida, a mere two hours from the MVA campus, Walti really just grew up all around the world. After leaving the States, he lived in India, Japan, Brazil, and finally settled down for a bit in Switzerland. The one thing many of these sights had in common was the passion for one sport: football. "My first soccer experience was in Japan where we had a formal training session about once a week" Walti recalls. In Brazil it was more kickabouts than formal play but when he made his way to Switzerland, that's where he began to see the structure of the game. Playing for the developmental academy of the local team Vaud, Jackson began to gain more interest in the sport but as he began to develop more at age 13 , he was cut from the developmental academy. Jackson didn't let this stop him as he looked towards the future not only on the field but off the field as well. " I was focused on college" states Walti. With college being the goal, Walti and his family looked for options that combined both the strong academic side and the strong sporting background and there was only one choice: Montverde Academy and the SIMA Program. 

Coming Back Stateside

After coming to visit the campus and training as a Freshman, Walti saw that the SIMA Program was offering a similar structure to that of the Swiss footballing experience he had received while also receiving the strong educational piece from Montverde Academy. As a person who totes the term on betting on himself Jackson found himself progressing both on and off the field and overcame challenges along the way. "I didn't struggle too much in the classroom" Walti stated but he did recall being a bit homesick at times and feeling the support from the staff whenever he felt that way. As he progressed throughout his journey at Montverde Academy his Senior Year arrived. "I didn't have too many offers going into my senior year" stated Walti, as a box-to-box midfielder he showed a lot of promise on both sides of the ball and drew interest from Ohio State. The interest from Ohio State soon took a bump as the coaching staff looking to bring him in was dismissed before the upcoming season.  As the year went on the Spring had come around, Walti decided to take a visit to the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) where fellow SIMA Alum Edward Kizza was attending. During his visit he recalls Kizza helping put in a good word with the coach and by the time Walti made his way back to the Sunshine State he was offered a roster spot to join the Panthers for the 2018 Fall Season. Using his mentality of betting on himself a little bit he was determined to show that he wasn't just there to fill a spot.

Jackson Walti: Pitt Recordman

Making his way to the Panthers in the Fall of 2018, Walti came in with the determination to show that he was there to compete straight away. A very technical box to box midfielder in his formative years, Walti arrived to college seeing that he had to adapt his play becoming the engine of the Panthers midfield. "I learned to adapt in all aspects because of my experience through SIMA, it was the perfect way to transition into college". He even stated that the routine felt similar to that of his experience of Montverde in training, into classes, to then studying and training more. After having a strong showing in the Preseason, the Freshman midfielder was given the start in the first match of the season. "I remember that it wasn't my best game." Walti felt that his first performance in College could've gone a bit smoother and saw that he would have to wait his for his opportunity again making a couple of appearances as a sub. Then, as the Panthers faced Akron away, a fellow teammate suffered an injury that called Walti into action.  From that moment on, while he remembered the strong mentality that his father instilled in him,  Walti never let the reigns go. "I was very self aware and knew the function that I brought to the team so I made sure to never lose my spot after I was in."  For the next four years of his undergrad and his graduate year with his competitive drive and nature, Walti not only captained his squad every year after his freshman year but played a total of 101 matches starting in 98 of them. He is the NCAA's D1 Men's Soccer Athlete with the most minutes ever played with 8309 minutes played.  In just over 100 games played, Jackson and the Pitt Panthers had two College Cup Final Four appearances in 2020 and in 2022. In his 4 year college career his hard work both on and off the field didn't go unnoticed as he earned 3 All-ACC Academic Team Mentions , 2 All-ACC Second Team Mentions, and finally winning the prestigious 2022 ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Award. To cap off his college journey Jackson was awarded a Bachelor's in Business Administration Degree in Accounting, Business Information Systems, and Supply Chain Management and a Master's of Science in Sustainable Engineering. Jackson felt that after accomplishing all this, he was ready for his next step, whether it was on the field playing or looking for new ways to innovate in the field in which he studied. 

From Pittsburgh to the Show

Jackson was always focused on the now. "I never thought about after college and going into the draft because I wanted to give my full attention to Pitt." His stellar reputation from college followed and Jackson received interest from both Austin FC an Atlanta United. After having many good chats with both clubs, Austin won the luck of the draw and drafted Walti in the second round as the 56th overall pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft.

He wanted to take the same mindset that he had in Pittsburgh into Austin, "Bet on yourself". "The preseason with the first team was a bit of a struggle." He remembers just pushing to give his all as he trained among some top talents of the MLS.  After a month of training with the first team, he was offered a contract with the club's MLS Next Pro team Austin FC II for the 2023 season. In Austin, he played 12 matches and continued to show the drive that had taken him so far college and had been able to help them reach the 2nd place in the Western Conference. As Walt's game developed and shifts in the league occurred he drew interest from the 1st place team in the Western Conference, Colorado Rapids II as they were in need of a #6 of his characteristics. Walti then made way to Colorado that same season and played in 8 matches. As the Rapids made their postseason push into the Semi Finals, they faced off against Walti's former squad Austin FC II and lost on PK's.  As the season came to a close and an option to extend his contract another season with the Rapids, Walti felt that he wanted to look for other options and declined to resign another year with the club. 


He is currently exploring options for the upcoming 2024 season! 

Words of Wisdom

Jackson's story proves true to his advice for current and future SIMA Student-Athletes that hard work pays off! The SIMA values that he continues to show today are those of Resilience and Accountability stating that they were fundamental to his journey. He also states that SIMA prepared him for life after MVA because the transition to the college experience was very easy with the routine and structure he had.