By Ryan Kaczmarski
Last October, Bay Village native and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis senior Kyle Hyland told West Life reporter Stefanie Kilnapp that if he was given the opportunity to play professional soccer, “I’ll definitely take it.” Well, that chance came this winter. He took it, and Hyland is now a rookie defender for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.
“It’s been great,” he said. “It was a long preseason and a long process to see if I was going to make it with them or not, but it ended up working out for me and I feel great.”
Hyland has been on the Crew’s radar for some time now as he played on Crew Youth Academy teams – U18-U20 – after his senior season at Bay High School through his senior season at IUPUI.
“They came in during my senior year (of college), and I got called in for a trial,” he said. “At first it was only a three-day trial, then they extended it to a trip to Florida with the team. Then I came back and they wanted me to join them again in Florida for four more days, and I ended up spending the rest of the preseason there and they gave me the (contract) offer there in Orlando.”
There was no point in preseason play at which Hyland thought that he had secured a roster spot on the team. He just did the best he could and let his actions on the field be the determining factor.
“I really didn’t want to think that way, to be honest,” Hyland said. “I just tried to stay focused the whole time until they actually handed me the contract.
“Of course, there were times when I felt really good about it. I was playing really well, and a lot of the veterans were complimenting me on the way I was playing, but I tried to shake that off and just stay focused on the fact that I don’t have anything given to me until I earn it.”
Hyland is joined on the roster by other native Ohioans Konrad Warzycha, Danny O’Rourke, Josh Williams, Aaron Horton, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas, Wil Trapp and Chad Barson, but being a rookie in a professional team’s locker room could be like starting over as a freshman again.
“Since I am another ‘Home Grown’ (player who went through the Crew’s youth academy) on the team, the other ‘Home Growns’ (seven in all) helped me make the transition from college to the pros,” he said. “As far as the other veterans go, they welcomed me very quickly, because once you’re part of the team, you have to train just like they do and they take the game pretty seriously.
“Everyone goofs off in the locker room, but there is no hazing,” he added. “It’s pretty professional and everything. Everyone just wants to get the job done.”
Hyland sees himself making a successful transition from the college to the professional game.
“It’s not as big (a transition) as you would expect,” he said. “It’s definitely a faster speed of play, but a lot of it is going to be more mental that anything else.”
Hyland is coming off a very successful college career, in which he scored a team-high eight goals, including two multiple-goal games, his senior year. He had to put off graduation and possibly grad school to pursue his professional dream, but he has not given up on earning a college degree just yet.
“I had to postpone the graduating, because I had to miss so much class,” he lamented. “I’m going to try to take some classes to finish my undergrad (degree), probably down here in Columbus.
“I’m only two classes short.”
To see the story on Hyland from the Oct. 10, 2012 issue of West Life News, go to http://westlife.northcoastnow.com/bays-kyle-hyland-racks-up-accolades-at-iupui/. You can follow Hyland on his path through the MLS season on Twitter, @KyleHyland31.