Former Raven Kyle Greig soars on to professional ranks
Greig becomes first Benedictine men's soccer player since Tom Buergler in 1975 to play professional soccer
- Wednesday, May 08, 2013
While it might have been a road less traveled for former Benedictine (Kan.) College men's soccer player Kyle Greig to get to the professional ranks where he currently starts at forward for the Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads of the USLPR, it was a trip worth taking.
Greig played for the Raven men's soccer program and head coach Rob Herringer from 2008 through 2011, along the way he was named to the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) soccer team three times earning first-team honors in his Senior campaign for the Benedictine.
Greig scored one goal, the first of the season for the Hammerheads, in his professional debut on April 19 in a 2-0 win over Antigua.
"I am truly living the dream," Greig said. "I'm getting to play the game I love and get a paycheck for it. I love my job so much."
The Ground Work
Playing collegiate soccer, let alone professional soccer, almost never happened for Greig.
Coming out of high school, Greig wasn't sure if playing soccer in college was his chosen path. It wasn't until he actually stepped on the Benedictine campus in Atchison, Kan., when he knew he was where he was supposed to be.
"I almost didn't play college soccer," Greig said. "At first I was just going to college and not play. Coach Herringer gave me the opportunity to play and once I stepped on campus and was given that opportunity, I'm glad that I took it."
Greig played in 18 games as a freshman, scoring six goals and tallying three assists.
"What initially caught my attention was Kyle's energy and determination to attack the goal," Coach Herringer said. "He was always trying to score. I also loved how he could change a game with his relentless work ethic and positive attitude. He was a perfect fit for us at Benedictine – a player who gave everything he had for the success of the team."
As a sophomore, he played in 20 games scoring 12 goals en route to helping the Ravens qualify for the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since the 1983.
In his junior year, Greig scored 11 goals and was the Ravens leading scorer on his way to being named That summer he played club soccer for Benedictine women's head coach Lincoln Roblee on the KC Brass.
"After my freshman year, playing professional soccer just wasn't realistic," Greig said."It was after my junior year playing summer club soccer that I began to think that maybe it was something I could do."
With some encouragement from Coach Roblee, and his brother Jefferson – a collegiate soccer coach himself – that the thought of playing professional soccer really started to settle in.
"The summer before his senior year in college Brass scrimmaged Sporting KC and Kyle scored an impressive goal," Coach Roblee said. "Kyle then trained with Sporting for the rest of the summer and gained more experience and confidence. In his summer play, coaches, teammates, and even the opposition were taking notice of Kyle’s emergence as a star among stars."
And So It Begins
Along with the experience he gained with the KC Brass and Sporting KC, for Coach Herringer, the light went off watching Kyle perform at the BC Soccer Complex during a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) clinic during that same summer.
"I think it was the summer before his senior year when we were holding an NSCAA coaching course on campus," Coach Herringer said. "Kyle was playing in the training sessions, and many of the coaches teaching the course commented on how impressed they were with his dominating presence and ability to score goals.
"Following his junior year I knew Kyle had the tools to play at the professional level, but the comments from my colleagues really solidified my beliefs."
During his senior year, Greig led the Ravens with 14 goals and tallied five assists which led to first-team All-HAAC honors and more attention.
"Getting to train with Sporting KC the summer before my Senior year really started getting me thinking that I could continue to play," Greig said.
So after his senior year, he begin thinking more about continuing his career. Those thoughts led to frustrations as nothing seemed to materialize from the tryouts he attended.
Taking a Step Back
With a semester left to finish his degree, Greig stepped away from pursuing his playing career and stepped into coaching.
In the fall of 2012, Greig served on Coach Herringer's staff and took what he had learned from Coach Herringer over the previous four years and used that knowledge to help the current group of Ravens.
"Looking back, I think stepping away and helping coach helped me see the game differently," Greig said. "I was able to pass along what I had learned and give it to the guys on the team and I think that helped me look at how I was doing things a little different.
"I became more of a student of the game while talking about my experiences with the guys on the team."
Greig was along for the ride as the Ravens under Coach Herringer won the rare double championship as the HAAC's regular season champion and 2012 postseason tournament champion as well.
One Last Go
After graduating in December of 2012, Greig gave himself six months to take one last crack at landing on a professional roster.
With the help of his parents, who helped with the cost of travel to tryouts as a graduation present, Greig made a trip to Minnesota to select tryout.
"I did pretty good and left thinking that I had made an impression," Greig said. "But after following up, nothing really happened."
Frustration began to settle in again and when talking with some players he had met during the combine process, he was directed to visit Wilmington.
"I left Minnesota feeling like I was what they were looking for and had talked with some guys about where else I could look," Greig said. "I was told that Wilmington was looking for guys my size so I started looking for information on websites.
"I was doing this all on my own and without any help from an agent."
In late March, Greig went down for a two-day open tryout with Wilmington. Over the course of those two days, he continued to show what Coach Herringer, Coach Roblee and other coaches had seen from him over the years.
"The level of play wasn't like it was in Minnesota," Greig said. "The level of play was more all over the place but after the first day, the coaches told me they liked what they saw and wanted to learn more about me.
"They invited me to stay and train with them during their preseason and then I tweaked my hamstring."
Facing another set back, Greig powered through and continued to show a flair for finding the back of the net.
"A lot of coaches wouldn't have cared about me getting hurt," Greig said. "They allowed me to take it easy during the week and continued to give me a chance."
He wrapped up his preseason in impressive fashion with two goals in his first game and a third in his second game. Wilmington's staff had seen enough and by Easter, they had invited him to sign a contract.
After heading back to the midwest to load up his car and spend the Easter holiday with his family, Greig headed back down to Wilmington to prepare for the USLPR opener against Antigua.
He felt like he had done enough to earn some playing time but when he arrived for his first game, he got another surprise.
"The game was at 7:30 p.m. and we arrived at 6 p.m. to get ready," Greig said. "I found out I was starting when I walked into the locker room. We had four other forwards that were waiting to get their paper work all figured out and so I was given the opportunity."
With a couple of near misses in the first half, Greig was in the thick of the game against Antigua from the start. He missed a chance in the first half and told himself, given another chance he was going to capitalize.
That chance came early in the second half and he didn't let it get away this time.
"I think I was dealing with a lot of first-game jitters in the first half, "Greig said. "In the second half I had a couple of good chances. They put the ball into me in the box and I was able to put it in the back of the net."
The rest, as they say is history. Greig had another goal disallowed because of an offsides penalty and a third chance banged off the bar but his professional career was off to a solid start.
Since then, Wilmington has lost three straight with Greig earning starts as the lone forward for the Hammerheads.
His team returns to action on May 10 hosting Rochester. The match can be seen live starting at 6:30 p.m. (CST) at http://www.uslnation.com/USLPro/.
"BC has really loyal fans," Greig said. "But this is a whole other level. Fans tailgating hours before the match. The crowd going crazy before the match even starts. I really am lucky that I get to do something that I love so much as my job."