By Mike Tupa
Christmas arrived early final year for Bartlesville High School head soccer coach Jason Sport.
Rudolph, Comet & Co. every had a hernia delivering this package deal — 75 inches tall and 200 kilos — in the type of senior soccer rookie Andrew Ely.
“I kind of wanted to see something new,” Ely mentioned about his resolution to tug on a helmet and lace up cleats. “I had just been playing basketball and running track. I wanted to see what I could do. It was a challenge I wanted to take on.”
And — to the delight of Sport and his teaching workers — Ely took it on like a grizzled veteran of the gridiron.
He earned a common spot in the offensive and defensive position rotations and introduced loads of pop and energy to the combo.
One of the elements of final season Ely loved most was watching assistant coach Collin Winters on the sideline “giving all the plays and him going crazy.”
He additionally felt illuminated by the pre-recreation preparation, which included the coached turning the lights off to set the tone for the gamers to get centered.
His largest thrill was the cost of the group out on the sphere simply earlier than kickoffs — particularly at dwelling video games.
“There’s just so much adrenaline,” he mentioned. “There’s a lot of just hoping you do everything right that night and go out and perform.”
Looking up in the stands to identify household and pals “is a different feeling,” he added.
He singled out the sport at Ponca City — in which the Bruins trailed however rallied to win to maintain their playoff hopes alive — as his favourite outing.
Ely has no regrets he gave soccer a strive.
“Definitely,” he mentioned. “I learned a lot of life lessons, especially with Coach Sport. It was hard, but it thought me to push through and to just suck it up no matter how much pain I was going through.”
Ely’s most constant athletic endeavor by means of his prep years was observe.
“I’ve always loved the long jump,” he mentioned. “I loved track because you go across to see different schools and you get to talk to their kids. It’s fun going to different meets.”
Ely additionally seemed ahead this year to getting out of the grime and operating on the laborious prime as a part of a relay group for the Bruins.
But, earlier than he had a chance to try this, the season ended because of the authorities statewide shutdown due to the coronavirus.
“I was starting to get into the relay team,” he mentioned. “Last year I did a little in relays but this the year I was going to do more. I was getting faster. I worked hard through my high school years to get where I was at.”
But, as an alternative, Ely had a chance to study one other life’s lesson from the varsity of laborious locks.
“Just always be ready,” he mentioned about coping with the sudden blows. “This is something I took for granted, not expecting this season to end. Always be ready because nothing good can last forever.”
Ely now’s primed for the his subsequent journey — a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
He is about to enter boot camp — on the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif. — subsequent fall.
“I just like them,” he mentioned about why he selected the Marines. “I like how hard core they are. They’re more physically fit than the other branches.”
He is contemplating trying into the particular forces coaching, as nicely.
English advanced into Ely’s favourite faculty topic, largely due to instructor Jonathan Chuning.
“I had him my junior and senior year,” Ely mentioned. “He was a little strict with us at first, but you could see him loosen up and be a little friendlier and it was cool to see that happen.”
While he contemplates his life’s subsequent section, Ely’s largest regrets about leaving highschool behind is “just hanging out with my friends and working hard on my sports and to be better every day.”
He hopes his coaches and teammates will keep in mind him “for my hard work, especially in the weight room and like a friend they could come to and talk about anything if they have any problem.”