A lifelong passion for soccer culminated in a commitment to Butler University for Desert Vista High School defender Brendan Hicks.
His career began at age 3. Now, nearly 15 years later, Hicks fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing college soccer.
Every practice, game, tournament and orange slice from Mom led up to that moment.
Hicks said if it weren’t for the support of his parents, he wouldn’t have reached this point in his career as his senior year approaches.
“My parents do so much for me,” Hicks said. “They’d drive me to games and practices all around the country and sacrificed so much for me to be successful.”
Advice from sister Nicole — who graduated from Desert Vista in 2014 and now runs cross country for TCU — shaped Hicks’s view of the model student-athlete: someone with equal focus on academics and athletics.
At Butler, Hicks found the ideal blend of these two pillars. The soccer program is on the rise and remains a presence in the Top 25, and the academic opportunity is there for an aspiring business student.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Hicks said of Butler’s campus. “My parents are originally from Indiana so I have a lot of family and friends there.”
Going out of state for college is tough for any 18-year-old, but Hicks is lucky to have people in Indiana that can help make the transition easier.
One is former Brophy soccer player Michael Peay, who’s coming up on his junior year with the Bulldogs.
Peay and Hicks didn’t know each other in the one year their high school careers crossed over, but since his commitment, Hicks has made an effort to reach out to Peay through some of his club teammates and get a feel for the college experience.
Oddly enough, Hicks’ favorite high school soccer memory involves Peay’s alma mater.
In the first round of the 2016 state playoffs, No. 16 seed Desert Vista upset No. 1 Brophy in penalty kicks, propelling the Thunder to an appearance in the state semifinals.
“It was a crazy game, almost unbelievable,” Hicks said. “I took the first kick for my team, and thankfully I was able to put it in the back of the net.”
Peay was already playing for Butler at the time of the game, but it still provides some bragging rights for Hicks over his future teammate. No doubt the two will be able to bond and trade jabs over their respective high school careers.
Hicks made plenty of memories outside of high school, too.
An integral part of the soccer experience for young players in the U.S. is club completion, and Hicks was able to travel around the country (and world) with SC del Sol, a club based in Phoenix.
SC del Sol won back-to-back state championships during Hicks’ time with the club.
The highlight of the experience, though, was traveling to England in the summer of 2014. Hicks and his teammates toured Premier League stadiums and had a chance to compete with English youth teams.
Hicks was struck by the skill of the younger players and tried to absorb as much from the experience as he could.
“We definitely had the physical advantage since we were a bit bigger,” Hicks said. “But technically and tactically, they were far superior.”
That experience, along with hundreds of other club and high school games throughout his career, shaped the kind of player Hicks would become. He describes himself as an aggressive hard worker with a knack for playing the ball in the air and reading plays before they happen.
At Butler, those skills will come in handy, and so too will his passion for the game.
“It’s a way of life and a huge part of my life,” Hicks said. “It’s such an enjoyable experience to go out and compete with your friends against other people.
“The satisfaction of winning after the whistle blows is a lot to process.”
As the final whistle blows on his prep and club careers, Hicks prepares for extra time in the form of college soccer.
The pressure to perform increases – as does the physical challenge – and it’s up to Hicks to remain one step ahead of the competition, much like he was on the back line for Desert Vista.