If anyone was wanting a season to happen more than any of the other kids, it was University Heights Academy’s William Bryan.
Entering his senior season with a few big goals in mind, he really wanted to play.
“We worked hard,” Bryan said. “Coach Frankie (Thomas) was saying we were going to keep working because we were going to have a season now or in the spring. We came out, we conditioned as hard as we could.
“Personally, I just knew I had to come ready because I had something to prove.”
When given the green light, Bryan didn’t waste any time.
After the year was all said and done, he led the state in goal scoring and broke an all-time UHA record. His final season in the green and gold is why Bryan is the 2020 Kentucky New Era boys’ soccer Athlete of the Year.
Bryan said coming in he knew what was ahead of him and knew what he needed to do to accomplish his goals.
Leading the state in goals scored and breaking the Blazers all-tim goal scoring record were at the top of his list.
“I knew I was going to have a big year,” he said. “I knew I would have to come out there and pick my games where I’d have to go off and score two hat tricks. I knew I was going to have a few games like that. Credit to my teammates, they found me. Connor Dill, Elvin Wagner, Preston Thomas, Ethan Hale — those people were up there helping me. They really helped me complete the goal I had. I was standing here the same time last year and I said my goal was to be the leading scorer in the state and that’s what I did.”
Bryan did just what he said, scoring those double hat tricks and racking up the tallies, leading up to Oct. 15 in the district championship against Christian County — his final game of his career on his home field.
It was there that the senior tallied a hat trick in a 10-0 win over the Colonels, putting himself at the top of the Blazers’ all-time scoring list, passing former Blazer Jordan Grace for the record.
Even with the shortened season, Bryan knew the record was within reach and is thankful to have gotten to break it.
“Jordan Grace was an awesome player and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him,” Bryan said. “It meant a lot to me. My teammates helped me a lot to get it. Going into the season, I thought there was a possibility to break it if we had a season. Coach Frankie said it was possible, I thought it was possible and my dad thought it was possible. I just wanted to go out and score as many goals as I could while winning. It happened against Christian County. It was the first goal in that game and it meant a lot to me. Hopefully there’s somebody that can break it.”
Blind to many due to the goal scoring, was Bryan’s ability to distribute and set up his teammates.
Bryan’s assist numbers were in the top-20 in the state as well in his final season.
“There’s always a target on your back when you have the ability to score like I do,” Bryan said. “That means many things. Obviously you’re going to score, but it also means you’re going to attract a lot of defenders. You’ve got to know when it’s your moment to score and your moment to pass.”
Now that his career is all said and done, Bryan said he is grateful for all the memories the UHA soccer program has given him, especially because he didn’t have plans to play soccer when he got here.
“When I came to UHA, I wasn’t going to play soccer — I came for basketball — a lot of people don’t know that,” Bryan said. “Coach (Mike) Smith really pushed me because he knew I was a good soccer player. I budged and learned to love the sport again. My freshman year we were amazing — all the way up to my senior year. The guys that were here with me, we grew as friends, we grew as teammates and we grew as teammates. By the time we got to my senior year we were a way better soccer team. Even though we didn’t get to where we wanted, I’m proud of the team. Moving forward, I think they’re going to be better than people expect.”
His eyes are locked onto the next level as well as Bryan is actively looking to continue his time on the pitch and beyond.
“I’m definitely going to play in college somewhere,” he said of his future. “I’ve been on multiple school visits. I’m not really sure where I want to go yet with the Division-I being shut down until April. I’m not saying I don’t have a chance to play at the highest level, but I know it’s possible. My goal is to play professionally like anyone else’s so I’m going to keep working at that and see what happens.”