Former Tiger playing for title in Premier Development League
By KENT MINCER
The Daily Sentinel
Little League baseball players grow up dreaming of being at the plate with a chance to drive in the winning run during the World Series.
Youth football players tossing the ball in the backyard with their buddies envision catching that touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to win the Super Bowl.
Like most athletes, Brandon Swartzendruber grew up dreaming of playing for a championship.
The former Grand Junction High School soccer standout gets his chance this weekend.
Swartzendruber and his Thunder Bay (Ontario) Chill of the Premier Development League won their semifinal game of the PDL playoffs last weekend, edging the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency 2-1.
That put the Chill in Saturday’s PDL Central Conference championship game against the Laredo Heat.
“This is the biggest game I’ve ever played in,” Swartzendruber said.
A 2003 GJ graduate, Swartzendruber played two years at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona. It was there that he first teamed with a player from Nigeria, Olawale (Henry) Adelusimi.
Swartzendruber and Adelusimi both got offers to play their final two years at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
An assistant coach at Midwestern knew the head coach at Thunder Bay and helped Swartzendruber get a chance to play professional soccer.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, since I first started playing,” Swartzendruber said.
The PDL, a division of the United Soccer League, was his opportunity.
Adelusimi was also invited to play for the Chill.
“It definitely makes it easier,” Swartzendruber said of having a longtime teammate on the Thunder Bay team.
Swartzendruber is the team’s starting striker in the Chill’s unique defense-oriented lineup.
“I’m the lone guy up front,” he said.
Saturday’s game, which starts at 7 p.m. MDT, is in Laredo, Texas, and will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.
“Since all of us were little, we all dreamed of playing for a national championship,” Swartzendruber said.
On Saturday, he gets to live out his dream.