Bobcats’ Summers chooses Graceland for landing spot

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown senior Caleb Summers, seated middle, signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Graceland University men’s soccer team in the team room of the Roundhouse on Wednesday. Joining Summers at the signing table are, seated from left, his sister Hannah, father Jerry, mother Sarah and brother Nick. Behind are MHS head boys soccer coach Scott Johannes, left, and Graceland head coach Bryan Courtney.

Another Marshalltown athlete made the decision to continue their athletic career at the next level on Wednesday as Caleb Summers signed his National Letter of Intent with Graceland University in the Roundhouse teamroom.

“It feels great, getting to be able to play soccer at the next level is awesome,” Summers said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to and then I found Graceland and thought it was a great fit.”

The Yellowjackets were 8-8-1 last season in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and they are led by third-year head coach Bryan Courtney.

Summers said Courtney and his work is part of what made him decide to choose Graceland.

“Coach Courtney is amazing, he’s a great guy, and the athletes there on the team are great and the actual campus at Graceland is awesome,” he said. “I think it will be a great fit for me and I am super excited.”

Courtney agreed that Summers will fit in great on his team, and not just because of how he plays on the pitch.

“It’s pretty much the whole package that drew him to me,” Courtney said. “You can find talented soccer players in lots of places, but to be able to find somebody that is talented in the game that I love and that I coach, but also is the type of person I want to surround myself with is great. This is more than just a job for me, it’s part of my life. I want to enjoy what I do, and a big piece of that is making sure that the right type of person is in the program. It’s a coach’s dream to find recruits like Caleb, I am very much looking forward to getting to know him over the next four years.”

MHS head boys soccer coach Scott Johannes said it seems Summers and Graceland are a match made in heaven.

“It’s one of those things where if you can line up a program that fits your skill level and what you want to do, and it has the major and everything, if you can team all that together and still come out ahead at the end, that’s a great thing to shoot for,” Johannes said.

Summers was a big part of a defensive unit last season that allowed just 25 goals while going 9-7. Johannes said part of why Summers was given the chance to sign on to the next level was because of what he did outside of the high school season.

“He has put himself in the offseason in a great position to succeed and kind of hone in his soccer skills, open up those avenues for people to see him and I think that’s what happened here,” Johannes said.

Summers has focused on the defensive side of the pitch for much of his Bobcat career, and he said that is likely where he will continue to focus as a Yellowjacket.

“I will probably be a defender somewhere, I don’t know if I will be on the varsity team to start with, I’ve got to work my way into it,” he said.

Courtney wasn’t so quick to commit to Summers on the defensive side. He said that will all shake out when the team gets together for its first practices in the fall.

“My job is to try and collect as many quality people and quality players as I can and then see where those puzzle pieces fit together,” Courtney said. “Will I have an idea a few days into the season training? Yeah, I will probably have a pretty good idea then, but it’s fluid. Eventually I want to settle on a role for him so he is not confused about what is expected of him and what he needs to do and how he needs to train, but for most freshmen coming in it’s a pretty fluid transition in trying to find the right spot for him.”

While the position he plays in the future could be in flux, the place Summers will be spending the next four years is locked in and he couldn’t be happier about it.

“I don’t have to worry about what I have to do with my future now,” he said. “It’s just kind of easing into the end of my school years and with soccer starting up, it’s a weight off my shoulders and I can focus on school and soccer. I already have what I’m going to do put away, it’s great.”