by Mason Raven
From an aggressive, dependable varsity football wide-out to a quick, physical forward, junior Doug Sauter has transformed from a football player to a soccer player – temporarily, that is.
Varsity soccer coach Kenny Martin and junior soccer player Alex Adrion both approached Sauter after seeing him kicking the soccer ball around one day with some of the soccer players after a football practice.
“I saw him goofing off with the soccer guys after a football practice,” Martin said. “I told him to come out after football season was over just to see if he was any good.”
Adrion did the same.
“I wanted him to play because a couple of times he was on the field messing around with some of the team members,” Adrion said. “He actually wasn’t bad.”
Once Sauter began to give the idea of playing soccer some thought, Adrion, one of Sauter’s good friends, stepped in and nagged him a little.
“First I had to convince him to come out and practice with the team a couple of times to see how he liked it, and he agreed on that part,” Adrion said. “After he practiced with us, he still wasn’t 100 percent on playing with us.”
“After a lot of thought and begging from Alex Adrion, I decided to give it a try,” Sauter said. “And eventually, [my parents] were all for it.”
Martin is still surprised with the transition Sauter has made.
“I was at first [surprised Sauter tried out],” Martin said. “However, once I learned that he had history of playing soccer at a high level for club, it was not as big [of] a surprise. He came out and the rest is history.”
After the first week of practices, Sauter grew to the idea of actually playing soccer. He found a sense of enjoyment playing in Granger Stadium. But rather than catching the ball, he now was kicking it.
“He was definitely rusty,” Martin said. “He had not played competitively since middle school, but you could see the talent was there.”
Senior goalkeeper Jake Hyslop offered the same assessment of Sauter’s initial practice.
“He seemed very committed to the sport [after the first practice],” Hyslop said. “He had not played in a while but he seemed like he was on a mission to get back into soccer.”
And then the junior’s statistics began to rack up.
Through his first twenty games, Sauter has played 600 minutes in 12 games while scoring three goals and assisting on another. And the soccer team is 10-7-3 going into district play. For an athlete that has never played soccer, Sauter is making an impact.
“His role has increased as time has gone on,” Martin said. “He went from a reserve player to now being a starter. We definitely benefit from him.”
“My favorite thing about playing soccer is not having to worry about impressing a lot of people but rather just playing it for enjoyment,” Sauter said. “I think it would be awesome [to win a state championship], but to do that we have to step up our game.”
As a starting forward for varsity, the enjoyment Sauter feels, he said, can be used in the sport he has cherished since middle school, football.
“I enjoy playing soccer because it helps coordination and quickness,” Sauter said. “It can definitely be transferred from soccer to football.”
The same leadership Sauter displays on the gridiron is now on display on the soccer field, which proves his intangible leadership capabilities.
“He is really integrated into the program now,” Hyslop said. “He used his football leadership and brought it to soccer.”
Starting a new sport his junior year of high school seems crazy to some, but Sauter’s explanation is simple.
“I started playing this year because I have been playing basketball for the past two years and wanted to try something new,” Sauter said. “Next year, I will play soccer again. I really enjoy it.”