Not by choice, but because Kodiak High School didn’t offer soccer at the time.
“The first thing I looked for was soccer,” Bradley said. “Soccer wasn’t here, so I did baseball.”
Flash forward four years and Bradley, a senior, will be playing in the high school’s first home soccer match Saturday against Skyview at Joe Floyd Track and Field. The girls play at 10 a.m., followed by the boys at noon.
The matches are friendlies, since Kodiak is just a club.
Bradley spent his freshman year on the diamond and then changed his focus to starting up a KHS soccer club. He is the only player left of the five inaugural members from 2011.
Last year, he was part of a co-ed squad that traveled for the first time and now he finally gets to play a home match, something he said he has been looking forward to.
“I have confidence; we are ready to go,” Bradley said. “Last year we didn’t have very many practices in or very many players and all the support. Now we do.”
Kodiak won two of its three matches last season, including a victory over Skyview.
“They want their revenge,” Bradley said. “I’m sure their team has changed and our team has definitely changed.”
Win, lose or tie, it will be a historic day for the young KHS program.
“It is a landmark moment for Kodiak and soccer,” boys coach Eric Waltenbaugh said. “It is pretty exciting. We have worked pretty hard over the last three years to start to build a program.”
Waltenbaugh said he knew Kodiak would eventually host a home match, but didn’t know when. The club has grown considerably in three years and on Saturday the 21 boys and 16 girls will suit up for the Bears.
“It is a chance for them to show their skill and a chance for the community to see it and hopefully generate some interest and excitement in the game by watching it,” Waltenbaugh said.
He said the boys team has been working on playing as a unit.
“We have the potential to put the ball away. We have some pretty exciting scorers and some really strong ball handlers. It should be fun to watch,” he said.
Waltenbaugh hopes to have more home matches by becoming a sanctioned sport that would compete in the 12-school Northern Lights Conference. All of Kodiak’s traditional opponents are in the conference, along with Homer, Grace Christian, Houston, Nikiski and Seward. The Bears will play the Seahawks on May 17 in Homer.
“I would like to see us join the league next season,” he said. “It is going to take a lot of local support to make that happen … If we just look at the trajectory over the last three years, the interest is there.”
The Kodiak Island Drummers will play throughout Saturday’s match.
“It is not uncommon at many soccer matches throughout the world to have music and dancing and singing go on during the entire match,” Waltenbaugh said. “Hopefully that will add some excitement and atmosphere.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.