Eighteen minutes into the first period of the Ohio State men’s soccer game on Sept. 26 against Detroit Mercy, redshirt junior midfielder Brady Blackwell flicked in a shot four yards out from the net and scored his first career goal as a Buckeye.
Blackwell’s collegiate soccer story doesn’t begin in Columbus, Ohio, however, and it wasn’t always easy.
He spent two seasons playing soccer at San Diego State University before he made the decision to transfer 2,263 miles back home and attend Ohio State.
Growing up in Dublin, Ohio, 10 minutes away from Ohio State’s campus, it was always a dream for Blackwell to don a scarlet and gray jersey and play soccer for the Buckeyes.
“When the opportunity presented itself to come home, I couldn’t pass it up,” Blackwell said.
A little over a year ago, Blackwell was working hard during the preseason prior to his junior year at a new school with a new team.
That preparation came to a halt when he was injured. It forced him to take a medical redshirt and stand on the sidelines while he watched his teammates play the 2016 season without him.
“It was just tough having to watch my teammates work and not being able to help out,” Blackwell said. “I tried to encourage them and do all I could, but there’s nothing like competing and practicing with your teammates.”
Blackwell said it was frustrating not being on the field with his team, but ultimately, he took his injury as a learning experience.
“I was very upset I couldn’t help contribute in my first season here at OSU,” Blackwell said. “But that’s part of the sport, and I think the injury helped me learn some important lessons.”
Fast forward to the 2017 season and Blackwell is healed from his injury and trying to make every second of this year count.
So far this season, Blackwell has played in 13 games for Ohio State, started 11 matches and added one goal to his list of accomplishments.
Being injured can be detrimental to a player’s future career and success, but Blackwell said being injured made him appreciate the game even more and motivated him to work harder.
“It’s important to play and train hard everyday, because you have no idea when something like an injury might happen,” Blackwell said. “Overall, it just made me respect the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Blackwell’s return to play has been a huge boost to the Buckeyes success in the season so far, his teammates said.
In the midfield, Blackwell’s ability to dictate the flow and tempo of the game has made a large impact on Ohio State’s game, said senior defender Niall Logue.
“Last year we knew he was going to be a big player for us,” Logue said. “In the preseason he got the news that he was going to have to medical redshirt, and that was a huge blow for us, especially in the midfield.”
For the Buckeyes, having a roster filled with 15 freshmen requires plenty of leadership from the few upperclassmen. Blackwell delivers that much-needed command both on and off the field, Logue said.
“Having him back this year is a big influence in a leadership way as well,” Logue said. “He’s a big personality in the locker room.”
After experiencing different trials and tribulations throughout his collegiate soccer career, Blackwell brings a lot of wisdom to the team.
“I’ve played at two different universities and have gained experience along the way. My injury humbled me and allowed me to take a step back and observe the opportunity we have as Ohio State athletes,” Blackwell said. “I hope that I can encourage younger players to take nothing for granted, and to train and play everyday like it’s your last.”