If the men’s soccer team is hoping for a Cinderella season, they need look no further than senior goalkeeper Ryan Vint to wear the glass slipper.
Pending the success of the season, of course, Vint’s story has echoes of a dramatic Hollywood screenplay. He redshirted his freshman year and has had to wait until now, his final year as a Badger, to start in goal. Not only that, but the 6-foot-2 captain overcame a childhood illness that caused him to spend a year of his life bound to a wheelchair.
As a child, he was diagnosed with childhood arthritis, a disease that forced him to spend all of 4th grade in a wheelchair. “The doctors didn’t know if I would be able to walk again, let alone play soccer,” Vint said. “It’s something that I overcame, and it gave me the confidence to overcome a lot.”
The story is an inspiring one that has inevitably shaped the drive of the senior captain. Vint has started the season off in good fashion, but unfortunately the team hasn’t had the same success.
Despite finishing the UC-Irvine College Classic with a record of 1-3, Vint’s performance in net earned him the honor of being named to the all-tournament team. In the two games he played last year, Vint recorded two saves and allowed zero goals. The Badgers have a fresh start with the arrival of head coach John Trask, and seniors like Vint will undoubtedly play a huge role in the shaping of this young team.
As a senior captain, Vint hopes to use what he has learned on the sidelines to lead the young team to a successful season.
“I’ve learned that it’s all about the team and not so much about any individual player,” said Vint.
His positive attitude as well as his unmistakable leadership role on and off the field is what earned him the position of captain this year.
“We’re all really confident in [Vint] and in the team as a whole,” fellow captain Jon Rzepka said.
Rzepka, who also redshirted his freshman year, has been with Vint since the beginning of their collegiate careers. The chemistry between the two captains is apparent as they joked about locker room dance competitions and Vint’s affinity for techno music.
“Ryan’s quite the dancer. The two of us had a pretty big dance off going back and forth, and he’s got skills. I’ll give him that,” Rzepka said.
Confidence is high on this Badger team as they hope to improve on their record from last year.
“Obviously we want to win games. But I think making the NCAA tournament is the number one goal at this point.” Vint said.
And after a rough start, the upcoming games in the Wisconsin Soccer Classic are crucial in order get the team on the right track.
“These next two games will really set the tone for the rest of the season.” Coach Brad Swenby said.
Swenby, who is in his first year as the goalkeeper coach, has worked with Vint a lot and seems confident in his ability to lead this team to a great year.
Vint, who is no stranger to adversity, is certainly up for the challenge.
As the Badgers prepare for their upcoming tournament games against San Diego State and Dayton at the McClimon Complex, the goalkeeper certainly knows what is at stake. But Vint isn’t worried about playing the role of Cinderella, that’s for others to decide. He’s just focused on winning soccer games and making it into the NCAA tournament.