Bruins player corrals competition

Sunday, October 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:44 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Among the items coaches found on the Rock Bridge soccer bus after a recent game were the standard empty wrappers, bottles, a missing soccer cleat and “Young Cowboy” magazine.

“Young Cowboy” magazine?

When they came across this unusual piece of high school reading material, the coaches knew exactly who to find: Drew Walters, the soccer-playing, fun-loving cowboy.

A standard day at school finds Walters strolling into class in full-cowboy regalia. It starts at his feet with cowboy boots, includes Wrangler jeans, a gigantic belt buckle, a tucked-in, long-sleeved shirt and finishes with, of course, a cowboy hat.

“Well, I grew up in the country,” he said. “Just in the past year, I’ve got more into horses, and country stuff.”

But Walters, a senior who hopes to attend the University of Wyoming to study pre-vet medicine, is more than just a character.

As a centermidfielder, he’s the catalyst for the ball-control offense favored by the Bruins. His role is to make plays, control possession in the midfield and distribute it to the Bruins primary goal-scorers.

“My role is to create the play,” he said. “To get the ball to the forwards so they can do their job.

Walter’s performance is scrutinized by his father, Phil, who comes to every game with a video camera. The father and son sit down to watch and analyze tape following each game. Walters said the film sessions with his father and longtime coach are ways the father and son bond with each other.

“He knows a great deal about the game, and we talk about it a lot,” he said. “It gives us something to relate to.”

The always smiling Walters is sometimes known as a bit of a hot-head, but Bruins head coach Kirby Keth understands Walters’ importance to his team.

“He’s a playmaker,” Keth said. “He’s adept at using his foot skills and passing abilities to get the ball wide and set up our counter-attack.”

That counter-attack led the Bruins to victory Saturday afternoon at 179 Soccer Park in Jefferson City. They defeated Sedalia Smith-Cotton 2-1 in the district quarterfinals. The win allows Rock Bridge to advance to the semifinals Monday evening, where they will face the No. 2–seeded Jefferson City Jays at 5 p.m. The Bruins beat Jeff City 1-0 earlier in the season.

The Bruin’s year has been a tumultuous one, filled with a difficult schedule, injuries to key players and a problematic lack of focus and intensity at times.

Don’t tell that to Walters and the Bruins, though. The talk after practice Friday was about a new season, beginning with districts.

“We realize that we’ve made mistakes throughout the season, but I think we’ll be ready to go for districts,” Walters said.

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