North Texas Daily

Freshman ‘keeper Bradley awaits her chance with soccer team

Freshman ‘keeper Bradley awaits her chance with soccer team

October 19
23:09 2015

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

With Mean Green Soccer (14-2-1, 6-0-1) sitting atop the Conference USA standings on its current six-game winning streak, star players like junior forward Rachel Holden and senior goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine receive tons of praise for its recent accolades.

But even on a team full of veteran talent, freshman goalkeeper Brooke Bradley has accomplishments of her own to boast about.

The Houston native represented the South Texas region of the U.S. soccer team’s youth program, the “Olympic Development Program,” in high school.

The program formed in 1977 to “identify a pool of players in each age group from which a National Team will be selected for international competition,” according to the team’s website.
Playing in the program placed Bradley as one of the top high school soccer players in the nation.

“I went to Florida and got to play a lot of games with my team against some of the best players in the country in front of different scouts and coaches,” Bradley said. “It was fun and a lot of extra practice.”

The freshman said moving four hours north of her hometown has been a smooth transition so far.

“The weather’s so much better here,” she said. “It’s a lot more competition here too, but I like it. Competition’s good.”

Although Bradley enjoys the extra competition playing division one soccer in the DFW brings, the former national athlete is on the bench after starring on her teams her whole life.
The freshman studies Conference USA Goalkeeper of the Week Jackie Kerestine to hone her craft.

“I love watching Jackie because she helps improve my game,” Bradley said. “Being under her, she tells me what to do so I can step in her shoes next fall.”

Kerestine has no worries for the Mean Green’s goalie position with Bradley likely to fill the spot next season.

“She already is amazing, but I think she’s going to be phenomenal,” Kerestine said. “I think this spring she’s really going to show out, and I think she’s going to grow into a really nice player.”

In her final season, Kerestine uses anything she can say or do to help one of the Mean Green’s next stars. She also has an off-the-field relationship with the young player.

“We talk about everything like ‘Oh the sky looks so pretty today’ or little comments here and there about playing,” she said. “And I always, always tell her to ‘Keep moving your feet.’”

Head Coach John Hedlund said he’s been nothing but impressed since Bradley arrived at North Texas.

“She’s a great kid with great character who works extremely hard,” Hedlund said.

Hedlund wishes he could play Bradley more this season, but the Mean Green’s success makes for very competitive games with every opponent.

“We want to give her more playing time this year but a lot of the games have been tight,” he said. “Everybody circles us on their schedule like it’s the big game, so we get everyone’s best effort.”

Bradley hasn’t had any big issues with transitioning to playing under Hedlund as her new coach.

“He’s nicer than most other coaches,” Bradley said. “I like the way he gets on players for doing bad but also encourages at the same time.”

Living a few hours away from home also has its downsides. Bradley has gotten accustomed to life in Denton but misses seeing her family more than anything.

“I’ve seen them once at the A&M game but not as often as I want to,” she said. “I like the atmosphere here, though. The soccer team’s pretty good here too, so that helps.”

While the freshman gets ready to hit the field at a moment’s notice, Bradley focuses on studying to keep her grades up and moving her feet faster in goal.

The moment Hedlund calls Bradley up to take on the task of goalkeeping for C-USA’s top squad still lingers in the back of the Klein High School graduate’s mind.

“I’ll be a little nervous, but I can do it,” she said.

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