By Caitlin Ladd, LouCity Insider
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In today’s day and age, dreams are often viewed as empty ambitions that have no hope of being realized. Those who are trying to follow their dreams are often pitied and told they should aim for something more realistic — especially in professional sports.
Despite the odds, Kyle Smith stands as an outlier among dreamers. He’s not only reached his dream, but his dream has managed to keep getting better.
Smith graduated from Transylvania University in 2014, where he completed his collegiate career. The next two years were spent searching for an opportunity to play soccer professionally.
Smith got his chance back in December when Louisville City hosted open tryouts for the 2016 season. Smith jumped at the opportunity and managed to get noticed amidst 100 other players vying for the same spots.
After open tryouts, Smith was invited by coach James O’Connor to a week-long invitational camp with about 20 other players. Smith understood the importance of the opportunity and pushed his limits throughout the week.
In February, Smith continued to impress and was invited to join the team during its preseason training session at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Once the team returned to Louisville, Smith was finally offered a 2016 contract with LouCity.
Since then, Smith and his LouCity side have strung together a league-leading nine-match unbeaten run, including four consecutive shutouts over more than 360 minutes and a league-leading 21 points with six wins.
“I’m just playing soccer, that has been my dream,” Smith said. “Just playing soccer, being with a good group of guys, having a good team, good coach, (and) good atmosphere.”
Somewhat unexpectedly — especially for a rookie — Smith has played the most minutes (810) out all the players on the team over the course of nine games. The experience has been quite a shock for him.
“I wasn’t expecting it coming in, but I was hoping to make an impact for the team,” Smith explained. “I’m just happy I can help the team win and just (do) whatever I can to keep going and stay at the top of the table.”
LouCity’s crowds have been an extreme change to what Smith was used to during his collegiate career. The natural midfielder-turned full back went from a couple hundred spectators to audiences well into the thousands and he’s come to appreciate the fans for what they do.
“They’re great. It helps because sometimes you might lose focus, but then you hear the fans and you realize what you’re doing and you have to stay focused,” Smith said. “It’s just like having the extra man on the field telling you to keep going.”
Things are looking bright for LouCity’s resident dreamer. Look out for Smith as he proudly sports the no. 24 LouCity jersey out on the pitch.
Louisville City continues on the road to face the Charleston Battery on May 28 (7:30 p.m. | WATCH), followed by an Open Cup fixture with Indy Eleven on June 1 (7:30 p.m. | TICKETS).
LouCity returns to Slugger Field on June 11 to host Wilmington Hammerheads (7:30 p.m. | TICKETS).