Kresmery to play soccer at Oakland City
Oakland City University men’s soccer coach Elliott Spruwell realizes that talent can be found in the most unlikely of places.
His recent recruiting class of 15 includes eight from outside the United States.
But he never thought that one of those 15 would reside in Dugger, Indiana.
“Elijah’s story is a little unique. He is from northern Illinois but had to move down to southern Indiana to live with his grandmother,” Spruwell said of Elijah Xavier Kresmery, a 2017 graduate of Dugger Union. “It had been a couple of years since he had played on an organized team.
“His counselor Camil Catlin reached out to me. We did not know anything about him, but we set up a date for him and his grandmother, Polly Kresmery, to come and tour our campus.”
Spruwell said it was right before Christmas break when they visited.
“I did not know what to expect,” said Spruwell. “He was a bit rusty, but worked out for an hour and a half.
“He is smaller guy, but very quick laterally and he has a nose for the ball. He was not intimidated by the moment.”
Catlin said he just came to Dugger for the 2016-17 school year.
“I assured him that we would do our best to find a program at a collegiate level that would take a look at him,” said Catlin. “It was quite different than most of our students because soccer is not a sport we offer at Dugger. We worked together to contact OCU regarding his academics and desire to play soccer.
“They invited Elijah down to meet the team and practice with their team. At that practice, he scored seven goals. They then invited him to be a part of their program.”
Kresmery, who is receiving some scholarship money according to Spruwell, transferred from Barrington Hills, Illinois, 40 miles northwest of Chicago.
“I was very thankful that Mrs. Catlin took an interest in my situation and set up everything at Oakland City,” said Kresmery.
He said he was a little apprehensive about the workout.
“To be honest, I was really nervous,” said Kresmery, who is 5-7 and weighs 130 pounds. “I did not know how things were going to work out.
“I think I scored seven goals. I played pretty well that day.”
Kresmery said it was exciting to meet all the players.
“There are so many players from different countries,” he said. “I really liked the campus.
“Everyone was really nice to me.”
Elijah said that he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in the area of physical education and/or health.
“I know that studying hard and keeping my grades up are going to be even more important now,” he said. “I have to stay dedicated and stay on top of everything, including soccer.”
Kresmery, who will be 19 on Sept. 14, said he started playing soccer when he was very young and that he had played soccer recreationally for the past five or six years, including almost two years of indoor soccer.
“This past year I played at Linton and Sullivan,” he said. “I can’t thank the people at Sullivan enough who helped train me and gave me the chance to continue to play soccer and keep my dream alive.
“If you look at it realistically, it is ironic that I came to Dugger, who has football, but doesn’t have soccer, and ended up with a chance to play college soccer. Sometimes you just have to believe that things are meant to work out.”
Elijah said that coach Spruwell gave the players an off-season workout schedule, including conditioning and drills.
“He told us to keep in shape and come down to Oakland City and play any time.”
Spruwell said Oakland City is a very small university and he is trying to have the soccer program be like a big family.
“This is just my second season,” said Spruwell. “We want everybody to feel like they are part of a family. I am working to put my fingerprint on the program.
“We play 17 matches in the fall and in the spring we have five play dates, when I can have 45 contact days with the boys. It turned out to be a good story about Elijah and his grandmother. I am excited for both of them.”