By Josh Brown
BRANDT — For Kurt Hamlin, the hardest part about deciding which college to commit to was actually just deciding which sport to go for.
Once that choice was made, the rest fell in place easily.
Hamlin, Bethel High School’s all-conference goaltender for the past three years, will play mens soccer and attend Grace College in the fall — the same school that older brother Kyle is currently attending.
“I was looking at Grace College and Taylor University for a long time, but Taylor wanted me for football,” Kurt Hamlin said. “It came down to wanting to play a certain sport, and I wanted to play soccer.”
“Kurt had a tough decision,” said Bethel boys soccer coach Bob Hamlin, who is also Kurt and Kyle’s father. “He was offered a spot on Taylor’s football team as the kicker. He had a lot of offers come in late in the spring, and it wasn’t until about mid-May when he finally decided. I think it’ll be a really good opportunity for him.”
Hamlin had a 0.92 goals against average and 24 shutouts during his high school career with the Bees. He was all-district twice, and this past year he was named second team All-Ohio during his senior year.
“He stepped into the goal his sophomore year,” Bob Hamlin said. “We went to the district final his freshman year with him as a midfielder, but he’d had ambitions to be a goaltender long before.
“Dad maybe didn’t want him to do it,” he added with a chuckle. He had skills that we needed elsewhere on the field. But he had three very successful years as our keeper. And if we needed to late in games, we could pull him and put him into the field where he was still a threat.”
“It was always exciting and fun to do that,” Kurt Hamlin said. “I don’t think I ever scored that way, though. Still, it was fun.”
And one summer, during a preseason camp, Hamlin discovered he had the potential to be a college keeper.
“We took him to a camp in Cedarville, and that’s where he realized he could play goalkeeper at the next level,” Bob Hamlin said. “He was one of the best keepers at the whole camp, and that gave him confidence.
“He had a great senior year. We had a lot of inexperienced players, lost a lot of good players from the year before. He didn’t have as much experience on the defensive line back with him, so he became a good leader and took the role very seriously.”
“I learned a lot from one of our assistants, Dave Timko, since my sophomore year,” Kurt Hamlin said. “He played overseas as a goalkeeper, and I feel confident because of what he was able to show me.”
Grace, an NAIA school in Indiana, offered Kurt Hamlin an atmosphere similar to what he is accustomed to, offered his intended area of study — Health Science — and, most of all, he already knows one of his prospective teammates that can show him around campus.
“It’s a small school, so it’s what I’m used to from going to Bethel,” Kurt Hamlin said. “Kyle is still going there, plus I have another cousin there that plays volleyball. It’s going to be nice to get to play with my brother again and to just know what to expect going in. Academics-wise, I’ve got a good work ethic. All my teachers at Bethel pushed me to do my best at all times.”
Kyle Hamlin was Grace’s leading scorer last season, with five goals, two assists and 12 points — making him the perfect person to help his younger brother get settled in.
“It will be good to play with Kyle again for my first year,” Kurt Hamlin said. “It’ll be good to have him there that first year and then be able to move on on my own after that. I’m looking forward to it all.”
“I’m very proud of Kurt,” Bob Hamlin said. “He’s worked hard over the years for this. We’ve had a lot of people come up to my wife and I at basketball games and tell us how much they’re going to miss him, tell us how much their sons trusted him on the field or the court. As a father, that makes you feel real good that people think of him that way.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.