Lenoir City High School’s Dylan Gilbertson committed his academic and soccer future June 1 to Bryan College.
After a tumultuous high school experience, Gilbertson said he thanked God for giving him the opportunity to continue playing the sport he loves.
“I feel great,” he said. “First off, I just want to give all the glory to God. I think that it could not be possible without him and that he truly blessed me a lot throughout the past year. I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Gilbertson did not have a straightforward path to college soccer after transferring to Lenoir City halfway through his freshman year and losing his sophomore season to the pandemic.
Despite playing since he was 3 years old, he said he stopped enjoying soccer and took a break his junior year. He came back stronger in his final season as a Panther to attract college interest.
“Soccer’s been like everything to me for the most part,” he said. “I’ve always been playing soccer, I played club for a long time, and then I kind of stopped during sophomore and junior year. And then I really started picking it back up again this senior year. … I was kind of not enjoying it for a bit, but then when I started playing club again and talking to God more, it kind of brought back my passion for the game.”
LCHS head boys soccer coach Santiago Correa understood Gilbertson’s decision to step away from the game but credited persistence and drive once he returned.
“He didn’t give up and say that’s over, he continues moving and trying to get to the next level,” Correa said. “He stopped last year, it was personal reasons, but he came back stronger his senior year. Plus he lost another year of COVID, but when he came back his senior year he did well and that’s the reason he was one of the stars in varsity.”
Gilbertson said he knows his work ethic is what helped him find an opportunity at the next level, something his mother, Amy Cox, noticed as well.
“He’s willing to do the work and he’s a team player,” she said. “He really thrives on supporting his teammates.”
Cox said she was thankful for soccer and LCHS for everything they have taught her son over the years. She said they helped him through the pandemic even as he reconsidered his relationship with the sport.
“Soccer has meant a great deal to Dylan ...,” she said. “It’s taught him discipline, it’s taught him about hard work and how to persevere through some ups and downs. Really it has been a phenomenal compass for him to help him through some changes. … Lenoir City soccer has really taught him a lot, he’s grown a lot since he started at Lenoir City and I think it’s prepared him well for Bryan.”
Correa said Gilbertson’s mentality will be his biggest asset as he learns to adapt to the demands of college soccer and academics.
While Gilberston said soccer was the biggest reason for his choosing Bryan, he does not want it to be the only thing he takes away from his time there. As he looks to study sports education, he hopes the school can also follow up on its promise to teach him how to succeed at life.
“He went to visit Bryan, the campus, and the focus on not only academics and soccer but also teaching, what they said was teaching him how to be a good human being, a good father, a good husband and give back to those around him, that spoke to both me and him,” Cox said.