As a little leaguer, he disliked waiting his turn to bat or his chance to field a batted ball. He disliked most activities that involved sitting still or standing around.
Even when he started for his youth baseball teams, Janssen felt like he was sitting out half the time. And as Janssen’s parents enrolled him in other sports, he noticed a trend.
“I just thought all the other sports were boring,” Janssen said. “There wasn’t enough moving.”
But eventually Janssen discovered soccer, where constant movement is as much a necessity as it is an advantage. He gravitated toward the sport quickly and developed into a talented player at the same pace.
Since then, he’s honed his skills playing in local rec leagues, competitive travel circuits and at Edison High School, where earlier this season he became the Chargers’ all-time leading goal scorer. He broke the old record (47 goals) with his first goal this season.
Janssen followed that milestone-setting start with eight more goals and eight assists in his first five games, bringing his total to 56 goals after Monday’s 5-0 win at Old Fort.
Chargers coach Kurri Lewis believes Janssen’s aversion to stillness plays a role in Janssen’s production.
“He’s constantly involved with the game in some way or another,” Lewis said. “Some forwards — they’re all goal scorers; that’s all they are. But when you have eight goals, eight assists and we’re four games in, that says something. You can tell he’s constantly moving.”
Lewis first heard of Janssen during the winter of Janssen’s eight-grade season. He first met Janssen the following June when Janssen attended Edison’s first team workouts.
When the Chargers began scrimmaging, Lewis noticed that Janssen could keep pace with the seniors, a sign Lewis looks for when evaluating which of his young players might contribute to the varsity team. He knew then that Janssen had a chance to become an impact player.
“When he came in, he instantly jelled with the older kids,” Lewis said. “He had the athletic ability. It was like, OK, this is the kid that everybody was talking about.”
Soon, Janssen became a starter, a title he’s retained all four years at Edison. On top of scoring more goals than any player in program history, Janssen’s played stints as a midfielder and a defender and excelled at both positions.
“He’s very transitional,” Lewis said. “You can put him anywhere, and I basically know wherever I put him, I’m gonna get a product out of him.”
The only time Lewis has worried about his star’s production was the spring of Janssen’s sophomore year, when Janssen suffered a hip injury running track. Janssen’s doctor told him to use crutches for a few weeks.
The crutches lasted about three days. Just like baseball, the crutches limited Janssen’s movement. So just like he did with baseball, he decided the crutches weren't for him.
“I was just seeing what I could do,” Janssen said. “Seeing how much I could move without it hurting.”
From there, Janssen was careful about returning to practice, but when his junior season began he was healthy again. He was able to play his usual minutes.
That means he was playing the entire game on most occasions. Teammate Connor Romell says it’s rare that Lewis subs out of a game.
In fact, the only reason Lewis subbed for Janssen last Wednesday — the first time Lewis has replaced him all season — was because the Chargers were winning 6-0.
“I could’ve left him in, but we’ve got some big games coming up next week, so it was just a good time to get him out,” Lewis said. “But other than that, always — he’s all 80 minutes.”
That energy carries over to Janssen’s leadership. After a long day at school, Lewis says Janssen’s sense of humor helps energize his teammates at practice.
Not that the 2018 SBC Bay Division Most Outstanding Performer needs the boost, of course. He’s still harboring the same vigor that baseball couldn’t satisfy.
“He’s one of those guys that can pick someone right back up,” Lewis said. “He’s a good leader to have around.”