DeKALB – Dylan Hottsmith is fast.
Speed was his strength on the football field as part the varsity team the last two years – it’s the reason he was able to weave through defenders as a running back and a kick returner despite being slightly undersized for his position.
He was also the team’s dependable kicker. And that skill made things a little tricky.
Hottsmith’s kicking technique was honed by years on the soccer field, a sport he still played throughout high school on Northern Illinois Football Club, DeKalb’s club soccer program. The sport tugged at him, and this year, he finally decided to take the leap and join the high school team, taking care to notify coaches and athletic director Bryon Houy before leaving football behind.
“I wanted to play soccer in college,” Hottsmith said. “I’ve played my entire life, and I’ve also played with the guys on the soccer team on the club team, and I just wanted to try out school soccer instead of just club soccer … I miss [football], but I had more passion for soccer.”
And DeKalb’s soccer team is reaping the benefits.
Hottsmith has scored eight goals and notched three assists in the season’s early-goings, giving the Barbs something they didn’t have last year with his ability to beat defenders with speed, along with a calm first touch and a nose for goal.
“He’s given us a certain dynamic that we didn’t have last year in terms of scoring,” McIntosh said. “We were a very good defending team last year but we didn’t have the ability to score in bunches that we kind of have now. His hunger to score goals feeds his team as well. He gives us an offensive spark that we haven’t had in awhile. He has the ability to get behind the back line and stretch them out with his speed and tenacity. He’s brought another level to us offensively.”
Hottsmith’s football experience is paying off, too.
McIntosh has increased his team’s weight training this season, and Hottsmith’s comfort with it has permeated the team.
“He’s an animal in the weight room,” McIntosh said. “He gets after it and other kids are feeding off that.”
Hottsmith said he’s looked into Division III schools for college soccer, and McIntosh said that, because he’s a new name on the high school scene, he thinks he’ll get more and more calls from college coaches as the season goes on.
Still, every once in awhile, when he’s at a football game among the fans in attendance, Hottsmith admits he misses the game. But that feeling never lasts long.
“I obviously miss it. Being in the stands is kind of weird, just watching it. I’ll have moments where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I want to be on the field right now with the ball in my hand, not at my feet,’” Hottsmith said. “But I think most of the times, I’d rather have the ball at my feet.”