From Most Improved Player as a sophomore, to the Bulldog Award for most aggressive player as a junior, to senior captain.
It’s been a steady progression for Heath’s Kenny Calvert, but there’s one thing he can be most proud of this past season: winning.
The left defender, one of just two seniors for the Bulldogs, helped lead Heath to its best-ever season at 11-7-1, including a pair of tournament wins.
A first-team Mid-State League-Ohio Division selection who played in the all-star game this past weekend at DeSales, he also is the Advocate’s Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“It was new at the start, being a leader; I had to gain people’s respect,” Calvert said. “We had great chemistry, the best we’ve had, and worked well together on the field.”
“He’s matured a lot, has been very responsible,” coach Julio Cancino said. “He’s definitely a vocal leader; you could hear his voice from the back of the field to the front.”
You almost could say Calvert’s improvement has mirrored that of the Bulldogs, who beat Brookhaven, 4-0, and River Valley, 6-0, in the tournament before losing in the district semifinals to DeSales. Prior to that loss, Heath won nine games in a row.
“Our passing was better; we weren’t hogging the ball, which we did a little last year,” Calvert said. “We fed off the wins and got hungry for more. It was great to be a part of.”
Cancino has preached patience to the parents through all the past struggles. They went a respectable 3-3 in the MSL-Ohio and were tied with perennial power Granville 3-3 at halftime.
“I told them we would get there, little by little, and they’ve finally gotten to see the results,” he said. “We really didn’t have a star player. We had four or five kids who scored six or seven goals each. It was hard to mark us.
“Our goals at the start of the season were to win over 50 percent of our games, and score over 50 goals, and we accomplished both.”
The future looks bright for the Bulldogs, too. Next year, 11 seniors return.
Calvert can take pride in the fact he helped pave the way to success. He plans to attend college, become an athletic trainer, and keep playing soccer.
“He’s a great kid, well-rounded,” Cancino said. “He plays different sports (also wrestling and running track) and is involved in a lot of school activities.”
He thinks Calvert will just keep getting better in soccer.
“He’s really strong, is over 6-foot (between 6-2 and 6-3) and is good in the air,” Cancino said. “It’s really hard to beat him in the air.
“He’ll be great in college.”