There was no game on the schedule, no organized practice, just Brian Wolverton — alone — dribbling a soccer ball up and down an empty field.
“I truly love playing soccer, it is my biggest passion in life,” the Pendleton Heights senior said. “When I am spending that time out there, it is more fun and I don’t see it as work.”
It is that work and dedication that led to the Herald Bulletin selecting him as its boy’s soccer Athlete of the Year.
“I feel incredibly honored,” he said of the accolade. “I could not stop smiling, it is awesome.”
Wolverton’s laid-back style of leadership helped propel the Arabians to their best season in a number of years, as the team went 12-3-1.
“It was exciting to make something of my last year there,” Wolverton said.
Third-year coach Kyle Davy said that what stood out about Wolverton was his work ethic and that did not go unnoticed by his teammates either, as he was named one of the team’s captains.
“There have been a lot of times that he and the other captains organized getting togethers on Saturdays for a pick-up game,” Davy said. “If a lot of the guys wanted to be better, they would go and play because they knew they could learn something from Brian, because his skill is so great.”
Wolverton led the Arabians in goals, assists, total points and shots. He was voted First Team All District and First Team All Conference.
He scored, or provided an assist in nine of Pendleton’s 15 games. For him, no goal was bigger than the one he scored on September 26.
The score was tied at three, in this pivotal match that ultimately decided the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship, after the first overtime period. With time dwindling away in the second overtime, Wolverton fielded a corner kick and fired it towards the goal but it failed to find the net.
The ball remained in play and found its way back to him. Wolverton skillfully rocketed the ball toward the left post and past the Mt. Vernon goalkeeper.
The Arabians had a 4-3 lead they kept and earned the victory.
“That was one of the most incredible feelings I have ever had in my life,” he said. “We had the biggest fan turnout I had ever seen since I was a freshman and they stormed the field. It meant a lot to the team.”
With Wolverton’s skills improving each year, Davy decided to move him from the left wing position to the center to allow him more space to use those improved ball skills.
“It gave him the whole 360 degrees — the ability to see the whole field,” Davy said. “He grew into that and became a game changer. If we were down, we looked to Brian to get us the special goal.”
With the soccer season complete, Wolverton played his last match as an Arabian. His playing ability and his leadership on and off the field will be missed, but he hopes the underclassmen will remember him for not only his game performance, but how he prepared for the game he loves.
“Hard work pays off,” Wolverton said. “If you want to accomplish something, you have to earn it — work to get it.”
Athletes of the Year Pendleton Heights' Brian Wolverton is the fourth of nine fall athletes who will be honored by The Herald Bulletin as the best in their sport for this area. The next athlete will be announced in Tuesday's edition. HONOR ROLL - Shin Kim, Liberty Christian; Taylor Binkerd, Liberty Christian; Jaren Baker, Liberty Christian; Matt Brown, Pendleton Hts.; Mac Miller, Pendleton Hts.; Tyler Collier, Pendl;eton Hts.