Brady Whittekind is putting his coach in a difficult position entering his senior season with the Ohio Wesleyan men's soccer program.

The 2016 Hilliard Bradley High School graduate earned third-team all-region, second-team all-Ohio and first-team all-North Coast Athletic Conference honors as a defender last fall. However, coach Jay Martin is unsure where to best utilize the versatility Whittekind brings to the team.

"I told Brady that he can be an All-American this season, but I'm not sure for what position," Martin said. "He means everything to the team. He means so much, we don't know where to play him.

"We played Xavier in the spring, and he started on defense. We moved him up into the midfield in the game and we needed him at forward so we moved him there and he immediately scored for us in a game we lost 2-1. He does whatever we need him to do."

Whittekind just does what comes naturally and wants to do his part for the Battling Bishops, who finished 13-4-2 overall and second (6-1-2) in the NCAC behind Kenyon (8-0-1) last fall.

"I have been playing soccer since I was in the third or fourth grade, so I understand the game and have a good soccer IQ," Whittekind said. "Growing up, it's how I played, (contributing all over the field).

"I don't think, 'What would a left wing do?' Instead, I think, 'What would a soccer player do?' I see the whole field and know what I need to do."

Whittekind, who has started since his freshman season, had two goals and two assists last fall. He was honorable mention all-conference as a freshman and sophomore and earned NCAC Newcomer of the Year honors after his first season.

"When Brady came here, he clearly had the raw talent and the ability, but he didn't have the maturity and mental discipline to be a good player," Martin said. "Over the last couple of years, he has improved mentally big time. In all sports, the further you go, the more you have to be mentally prepared."

Whittekind said he started working on that from the moment he stepped on campus.

"My freshman year, I didn't start the first three games and then they moved me from forward to left back and have started ever since," he said. "In college soccer, the toughest thing is staying focused all 90 minutes of the game. You have to be able to take care of the job at hand for the whole 90 minutes. Once you start to get tired, focus starts to go out the door."

The strategy of soccer helps keep Whittekind's interest and aids his mastering of several positions.

"I like that soccer is free and free-flowing," he said.

"It's not basketball where you have set plays. Instead, you have options to do what you need to do. I like that freedom."

Whittekind also likes the freedom of playing all over the field, but that does bring some uncertainty to preseason camp in August.

"It's different," he said. "If you're a three-time starter at one position, you know what to expect. This time, I come in wondering where I'm playing. You just have to come in and compete against the new guys. I like that challenge."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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