Sports

Soccer player a star on field and in classroom

First he picked up a baseball bat.

Then it was a basketball.

But Bremerton High junior Kyle Johnson found his calling with a different ball — soccer.

As a 7-year-old, he realized his stature and speed could pay off in the fast-paced game played on grass.

Now, as a 17-year-old, he plays on one of the top teams in the state for Premier Onc League FC United, and he leads the Knights’ charge this year at the center midfield position.

“He’s the most unselfish player we have,” Bremerton High coach Don Evans said. “He doesn’t care about personal glory.”

Johnson was raised in Bremerton and started playing recreational league ball before joining FC Kitsap in eighth grade. Last year, he joined the Premier team. That’s where he met Bremerton’s assistant coach Matt Prichard, who was Johnson’s coach.

“He just wants to play,” Prichard said. “He challenges himself on the field. We are just going to trust him with his opinion.”

Johnson maintains a 3.6 grade-point average through the middle of his junior year. He usually practices five days per week, and when he isn’t scrapping on the soccer field, he is performing tricks on his skateboard.

Johnson takes TV production classes at Bremerton. Sometimes he films his friends skating.

Although he plans to play soccer in college, he also wants to study broadcasting.

Johnson likes the pressure of being on the field with the game on the line.

“It’s a very physical game,” he said. “I just like feeling pressure when I’m out there.”

It’s one of the reasons he likes punk music — because it’s the same adrenaline rush he feels on the soccer field.

Johnson is applying to numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Puget Sound, where he can play soccer.

To his teammates, he is a leader on the field.

“When he’s out there, he’s got a level head,” Bremerton midfielder Keenon McWhorter said. “He plays the same way in practice as he does in the game. Confident.”

It’s an attitude Johnson keeps no matter what the situation is. Despite a stretch where the team won four consecutive games last season, Johnson said the team struggled to remain up-beat.

In the last two years, the Knights have had a combined record of 5-25. Last year the team was 5-15. The year before that they failed to win a game.

Johnson couldn’t pick a better time to try to lead the Knights in a new direction.

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