Multiple Teams · Kyle Hotz named Gazette soccer MVP for renewed focus, fitness


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Article obtained from Medina Gazette

Brunswick senior Kyle Hotz is the 2014 Gazette MVP for boys soccer. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

Brunswick senior Kyle Hotz is the 2014 Gazette MVP for boys soccer. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)

Kyle Hotz knew something had to change.

After a five-goal junior season in which he struggled to stay on the pitch for long periods of time, the Brunswick forward was far from satisfied.
“When (my junior) season ended, I got off the bus and Coach (Ben Dotson) asked me if I was going to play next year,” Hotz said. “I knew at that point that I had to play. Playing football, you play with a lot of guys, but soccer is such a close group and there was no way I was not coming back.”
That decision gave way to Hotz bringing renewed focus and taking on a leadership role with the Blue Devils. He then carried the program to its best record in eight seasons.In turn, that also earned him Gazette MVP.“The thing about Kyle is that he didn’t even play his sophomore year and took some time off,” Dotson said. “He used that as a motivator, though, and got fit in the offseason, worked hard and rededicated himself to the sport.”Hotz didn’t do it by playing in club tournaments every weekend or hiring a trainer.

He did it by working out.

The 17-year-old spent his days lifting weights and running in the gym as opposed to playing 60-plus games in the offseason.

The move worked, as Hotz went from just another player to one of the area’s top strikers, scoring 17 goals and dishing out 12 assists en route to earning first-team All-Greater Akron District and All-Northeast Ohio Conference River Division honors.

Even the senior, who also was a standout kicker for the football team, didn’t expect what the 2014 season had in store for him.

“I had no clue that it would turn out the way it did,” Hotz said. “I knew it was my senior year and I had to step it up a bit. Coach got us lifting in the offseason, and that helped us get bigger and faster. That helped me out a lot.”

His fitness was holding him back.

Hotz always had the abilities of being a top-flight player, according to Dotson, but couldn’t stay on the field for long stretches of time.

“I had to improve my fitness,” Hotz said. “Last year, I would play 15-20 minutes and then have to come out. I mean, growing up playing soccer, once you get your touch, you always have it. It was more important to get me playing more than 20 minutes a half.”

Hotz made every second count.

From the first game of the year, when he scored a school-record five goals in a win over Parma, Hotz proved he was ready to play.

“That first game helped a lot with my confidence,” he said. “From there, I knew that a lot of eyes were on me, so I had to keep working and doing better.”

Whether it was bombing a free kick from 50 yards, finishing a quick flick from teammates Justin and Tyler Paalman or tossing a throw-in across the field to the other side of the box, it was hard to contain the 6-foot, 175-pounder.

“What makes him so special is his versatility,” Dotson said. “If he was shut down as a target forward, which is his natural position, he would be able to score off of a set piece. He was dangerous at all times, and he was able to do this all season. There’s a certain trust there. He was our go-to guy this year, and that trust came from the guys seeing how hard he worked in the offseason.

“They had a newfound respect for him from there. Kyle puts so much pressure on himself, but he always found a way to get it done. That trust from the players started to build as he put up results.”

While Hotz is getting plenty of offers from colleges — either to play soccer or kick for football — he’s not sure exactly what he wants to do.
One thing is for certain, though. He’s not going to waste any more opportunities.

That was a message he was certain to deliver to future Blue Devils.

“I wish I would’ve taken soccer more seriously my sophomore and junior years. That would’ve helped a lot,” he said. “That was the message we left as seniors to other players — never take a practice too light because what you do will affect things later and you might regret it.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.