Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Courtesy photo | Herald Times courtesy photo | IDS
Will Bruin, shakes hands with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber after Bruin was drafted with the 11th pick by the Houston Dynamos on Thursday in Baltimore, Maryland.
By Stephanie Kuzydym | IDS
Will Bruin traded in his uniform for a suit and the soccer field for a chair as he waited for his name to be called.
In Baltimore, the fifth city hed been in during the last four weeks, Bruin listened as 10 names were called before his during the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
The former Hoosier soccer star was getting nervous. Coming into the morning, people gave him their predictions. Some predicted he would go in the top 10.
But when five Akron players were picked in the first ten spots, Bruin realized that nothing goes according to plan.
Then, MLS Commissioner Don Garber walked to the podium. He announced that the Portland Timbers traded their 11th pick to the Houston Dynamos and with that pick selected forward Will Bruin from IU.
Just a month prior, Bruin was a standout IU soccer athlete in his junior year. Then came the end of the season, the signing of a Generation adidas contract a contract used to entice the best in college and high school soccer players into the MLS and the withdrawal from his spring semester classes.
When his name was finally called, Bruin hugged his dad and mom before joining his new team.
On a fall afternoon six years earlier, Eva Bruin sat in the stands overlooking her sons high school soccer field. A lot of changes had taken place during the last few months, and she was trying to grasp it all.
That June, Will walked off the soccer field after participating in the freshmen camp and called his mom. He was invited to the varsity camp that took place in early August.
What? Eva replied, shocked. But youre a freshman!
At the end of varsity camp in August, Will called his mom again. He was invited to six grueling days of varsity tryouts.
One day after the next, the coaches called Will back. Then, the same day Eva and her husband were moving the final pieces into their eldest sons dorm room in Lawrence, Kan., Evas phone rang again. Back home in St. Louis, Will had just looked at one of
many sheets of paper that would change his life.
Mom, they posted the list, Will said. And I made varsity.
What? Eva shouted with excitement. But youre a freshman!
The soccer players were lined up on the field. The past few months of her sons success didnt prepare Eva for the realization she got that afternoon sitting in the stands.
At starting forward, freshman Will Bruin, the announcer had said.
I was sitting there like, Oh my gosh. This is really kind of something, Eva said. His high school career just took off after that.
A 69-18-13 record, a No. 1 national ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll and 102 career goals later, Will was staring at another piece of paper that would change his soccer career: a letter of intent to play for the Indiana Hoosiers, a soccer program embedded with the pride that had come from seven national titles and the second-most championships won by any college program.
At the center of Jerry Yeagley field, dressed in a grey baseball cap and sweat-filled jersey, stood Bruin, now a junior, embraced in a bear hug with teammate, roommate and long-time friend Luis Soffner.
Near the two Hoosier soccer players was a black and gold trophy. A 2-0 deficit after the first 45 minutes of play ignited a flame in Bruins feet. He scored one goal, then another to tie, before sophomore teammate Joe Tolen sent the final ball sailing into the goal for the game winner and the teams first Big Ten Regular Season Championship trophy in three seasons.
It wasnt the trophy that added an eighth star to the IU soccer logo, but it was a start.
IUs season ultimately ended two games into the NCAA tournament, falling to Akron 2-1 on the Zips home turf. Akron went on to win the National Championship that season.
But it was in the previous game against Tulsa that Bruin netted his 17th and 18th goals of his junior season.
They were his last in a Hoosier uniform.
My goals showed people how much more mature I got from freshman year to junior year, Bruin said. I just felt like this year, I got it. When I was a freshman, it was just transition. Sophomore year could have gone a lot better, but it didnt. This year, I just was a lot more comfortable, and it showed with production on the field.
Four weeks later, for the third time in his career, a paper was put in front of Bruin, offering him something that would again change his soccer career. And like all the papers before, he used it to take the next step forward in his career.
Sitting in the expansive room at the Baltimore Convention Center, Bruin was almost 890 miles from the church soccer field in St. Louis where he first started playing as a pre-kindergartener. He isnt the first soccer star to go from De Smet Jesuit High School to Indiana to the MLS. Three men have paved the path before him. One is current Seattle Sounders FC forward Pat Noonan.
Will and I were both fortunate enough to go to two of the best systems at the high school and college level, Noonan said. We definitely had two of the best coaches and coaching staffs any player could ask for to get to the professional level.
Bruins road was also helped by De Smet coach Greg Vitello, who coached De Smet greats Mike Ambersley, Chris Klein, Harry Weiss and Noonan to IU stardom. Vitellos soccer team captured four state titles and compiled a 70 percent win rate during the past 42 seasons.
Its been an honor really, Vitello said. Will is a totally different player than the rest. In high school, everybody thought, Im going to mark him out of the game until they stand next to him and see how big he is. Then they have a couple of encounters with him, and they pick up an elbow here or a push here or a knee there, and then theyre not quite as brave as they thought they were before the game. He was a force to be
reckoned with still is.
Current IU soccer coach Todd Yeagley also helped lay the road to soccer success for Will. As a former seven-year MLS professional, Yeagley offered Bruin the pros and cons of his next decision.
With whatever decision I made, he supported me 100 percent, Bruin said. He just wanted what was best for me, and we ultimately came to the decision that it was the right time.
After his final class ended in Bloomington, Bruin headed to St. Louis to spend a couple weeks with family and to attend the MAC Hermann Trophy Award Ceremony for the best player in college soccer which was won by Akrons Darlington Nagbe before heading to the MLS Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. that he followed up with a flight to Baltimore for the SuperDraft.
Now hes a plane flight away from a press conference that will have a paper announcing him as one of two draftees to join the Houston Dynamos. Hell throw on an orange jersey at the start of preseason on Feb. 24, one month before his roommates, his friends and his teammates throw on their crimson jerseys back in Indiana.
We were very fortunate to have him for three years, Yeagley said. Will did a lot for IU soccer, and he will continue to be an ambassador for IU soccer.