FORT WAYNE – Nick Strack was standing near the same fields where it all began after a Bishop Luers practice at the Fort Wayne Sports Club.
The Knights star center midfielder began playing soccer at 3, but his career began its ascent when he started playing travel soccer four years later at the Sport Club with his older brother Greg and with his father, Joe, as the coach. Greg was nine at the time, while Nick was seven playing with older players.
I have been bringing him out here since he was very, very young, said Joe, an assistant coach for Class A No. 2 Bishop Luers.
When Nick was 10, the travel team disbanded, and Nick started playing with the now merged Fever program and soccer guru Bobby Poursanidis.
That really helped his play get stronger, Joe said. He is a soccer junkie, so he has always welcomed that challenge and rose to the occasion.
While Nick was playing at a higher club level and getting additional training, Joe began his coaching stint with the Knights and brought Nick along to games and practices before the younger Strack became a varsity player as a freshman.
I couldnt wait to put on a (Luers) jersey, Nick said.
Its been a good fit for both player and school, with the awards and honors coming in droves over the last few years. Nick led the SAC in scoring as a sophomore, was named all-district and honorable mention all-state and was the SACs boys soccer player of the year as a junior.
The past two years I have had to step up and be the leader on the team, Nick said. To be the SAC player of the year was a great honor, but there are many good players who couldve gotten it. I am just going to keep working and try to get it again, maybe.
It puts a lot of pressure on me to keep stepping up my game because I know I have to pick it up because I know there are many more good players in the SAC this year who keep stepping up their game, so I have to keep stepping up mine.
Nick, a team captain, has nine goals and 11 assists this year, after getting 11 goals and 20 assists in 2012 for the SAC champion Knights, who begin sectional play next week.
He is always challenging himself to do something better, Joe said. The awards are great, but ultimately for him is not how you begin the season but how you end it. We want to make a good run.
He aspires to play in college (Nick is undecided), and he aspires to play at the next level after that. It is a goal of his. It is a long shot, but it is impossible if you dont try. He is always challenging himself to make it to that next level.
To help with that challenge, the Knights have added former South Side standout Jamar Beasley as an assistant coach.
Jamar Beasley has helped us a lot, Nick said. He has been there. He has been in our situation. He can see what we are going through. It really helps, and he gives us a lot of good information.
In 1998, Beasley was the youngest player drafted to play professional soccer as a 17-year-old. He has had a long professional career, both outdoor and indoor.
It is great because he is local, having played at South Side, Joe said. He has been there, and he can relate to certain situations with these guys. They listen to him, so it has been a great thing for the program.