By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Dylan Hager has been playing soccer since he was four years old. Wednesday afternoon at Princeton Senior High School the senior signed to play four more years of the sport he loves, inking a letter of intent to play for the Fighting Scots of Ohio Valley University.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Hager said. “I’ve been playing my whole life and I’m glad I get to play four more years. It (Ohio Valley) is a nice place to go, the coaches there are nice and I’m glad to have the opportunity.”
Hager was part of a Princeton soccer team that completed the 2012 season with a 12-6-1 record and a No. 12 statewide ranking. However, the Tigers fell in sectional tournament play to Oak Hill, a team it had defeated twice during the regular season.
While Hager did not put up eye-popping statistics, two goals and four assists on the season, his contribution to the team was significant and according to Tigers’ soccer coach Steve Bailey, he was the heart and soul of the team.
“Dylan will not be the fastest player on the field, he will not be the most skilled player at Ohio Valley, but the thing about Dylan is he is the hardest worker and he will have the most passion of anybody they’ve got, and that’s what makes him a good soccer player,” Bailey said. “Sometimes we even over-looked him here because he wasn’t the fastest, or most skilled, but he has always had the most passion and worked harder last year than anybody.
“The message is, if you work hard and have passion, you can make yourself into a good soccer player and get a college scholarship out of it. It’s a strong testimony to Dylan’s character and willpower to be a good player.”
Hager credits Bailey and his teammates for helping him achieve what he has on the pitch.
“They are all supportive and they’ve all helped me,” Hager said. “Any time I’ve needed something, or if I do something wrong, they’d help me. When I went up there (Ohio Valley), they were all supporting me and they hope the best for me. And Steve has always been there, behind us all, helped us all out, everybody. He’s helped us all.”
Asked about what was going to be different playing at the next level, Hager said not being with those who have supported him for years.
“I’m going to miss my friends and coaches,” Hager said. “It’s just going to be a whole new experience up there. The game is a lot different.”
Hager’s mother, Melissa, who joined her son at the ceremony at the PSHS library, beamed with excitement over her son’s accomplishment and reward.
“I am very proud because he has always loved soccer since he was a child,” said Melissa Hager. “I am very proud that he gets to go and continue on, doing something that he loves, very proud of the young man he has become.
“He has always been responsible and he is a very good kid. I’m glad that it’s working out for him. His hard work is paying off in school too.”
Hager plans to major in business administration at Ohio Valley.
— Contact Bob Redd at email@example.com