By Randy Whetstone Jr.
Kentucky Country Day boys soccer team finished their season with a 12-5 record and bounced back from a dismal 8-11 season during their 2016 campaign. Although their season ended prematurely after losing to Christian Academy-Louisville in the 28th district round of the playoffs, Muhammed Draw was able to finish his high school career as the leader and only starting senior on this year’s team.
Coach Barnard Baker credited his team’s success to their unwavering passion and willingness to compete and be committed to a championship-like culture. One of his challenges this season though was age. The team was scarce when it came to veteran leadership by starting five freshmen and Draw being the only starting senior. The Bearcats had three seniors on their roster, but they played more of a mentor role for the younger guys.
But it was Draw who galvanized and led the troops this season. He ended the year with a team-leading 27 goals to go along with 8 assists. KCD allowed only 20 points to their opponents, and in their 12 victories, they had 8 shut-out wins. This means Draw scored more goals in the season alone than their opponents collectively.
“Muhammed was a fearless competitor who never backs down from a challenge. He was also a great teammate who was always there for his fellow player,” says Baker.
Not only was he able to be there to support his teammates through his numbers, Baker says Draw had stamina unlike anything he had ever seen in other high school soccer players. “He had a motor that never stopped. He played through every challenge and never quit. He was sprinting at 100 mph to everything.”
By starting and playing on the field with so many younger guys, it didn’t take long for underclassmen to glean from the upperclassman as they worked diligently to improve their game for the future. Draw’s strong will to work and work rate were contagious. Baker says the younger players were able to see how hard work outweighs talent, but also how it sustained a player when talent didn’t want to work.
When asked how he was able to lead the team in goals and cause havoc for opponents, Draw says, “I’ve learned to work hard for a full game and not take time off. My coaches taught me to do the work before the ball is passed to me and to be more efficient around the goal.”
The greatest incentive for Draw was not relishing the limelight as the team leader, but it was being a part of something that was bigger than him. What will he miss the most once he graduates? The connection and bond he was able to establish with his teammates and experiencing how those relationships can be impactful both on and off the field.
“We all valued each other the same, whether we were playing in a game, at practice, in school or just hanging out. Everyone on the team played an important role in each other’s lives and we played for each other,” he says.
Having led a team back to winning ways and posting stellar numbers in his final season, Draw — who felt if he didn’t work hard then he was letting his teammates and coaches down — wanted to leave a legacy behind and be remembered not for his stats but for his “character, hard work and dedication.”
“I want future players to love their team and this game as much as I have,” he says.
It says a lot for a young man whose very game was predicated on those same principles. Baker believes he will leave a mark and be cherished in this program for years to come. VT