Friday, July 16, 2010

First Seahawk To Reach MLS Ranks Stays Focused

Many kids dream of being a professional athlete. They work hard, focus, and sometimes it all works out. At age five, Brad Knighton '06 was into many sports, enjoying the competitive nature and team environment, but as he got older he knew soccer would be his future.

During the summer of 2003, Brad received a phone call from UNCW Soccer Coach, Aidan Heaney. During a visit to campus, the rising soccer star quickly realized that despite numerous college choices, he was destined to become a Seahawk. While playing for UNCW, Brad was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-South Atlantic Region Second-Team after leading the Seahawks to their fourth consecutive trip to the CAA Tournament. He also earned First-Team All-CAA honors while setting a school record with a career-low 0.83 GAA in 2006-07 that ranked him third in the league. "The accolades that Brad received at UNCW were the result of his determination and hard work," said Coach Heaney. "I know he's always going to do what it takes."

The opportunity for Brad to realize his dream came in January 2006, when he became the first Seahawk to join Major League Soccer. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Coach Heaney, Brad signed with the New England Revolution as the number 3 goalkeeper. Earning a spot on an MLS roster may have been a big undertaking, but Brad soon realized that his next challenge was to remain focused. "Coming into practice every single day and knowing [there are not many chances] to play is tough. It will take a toll on anyone. Being able to have that mental toughness and fight through it those first two years has made me a better person on and off the field."  Brad's determination and ability to always give 110% gave him the edge to beat out the number two goalie and get more action in the games. His high performance caught the attention of the Philadelphia Union, the 16th ranked team in the league, and he was picked up in this year's Expansion Draft.

Brad is currently living in Pennsylvania with his wife Britney, a 2007 UNCW nursing graduate, who works for Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. They are expecting their first child in February.

Like Brad, UNCW alumni are reaching their goals and achieving success all over the world. Take a look at the last post on the Seahawk Summer Feature and learn about Ryan Crecelius '06, an entrepreneur who has his eyes on Wilmington's future.

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