AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to announce new signing Bryce Nicholson to The Mighty Oak for the 2019 season. Nicholson has finished his sophomore season with the Lawrence Tech Blue Devils and has spent both seasons with the side as a starter in defense. He helped lead LTU to their first ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament, and all throughout their run winning the 2018 WHAC Tournament to secure a spot in the national tournament. His performance over the season earned him a spot on the NAIA All-Mideast Regional Team as voted on by United Soccer Coaches at the end of the season.
Coach Eric Rudland delivered high praise for the new member of the AFCAA Family as he called him “one of the top defenders in the WHAC” over the 2018 season. Nicholson had a knack for finding the net, scoring three goals and assisting three more over 21 appearances, eighteen of those being starts. The success he has found over 2018 is, as Nicholson notes, going to help him over the summer, as he says, “This year was our first year we won the WHAC title and our team learned what it’s going to take to compete at the higher level. I know what it’s going to take to compete for a starting spot and compete in the NPSL.”
As a total package of a player, much of the 6’3” defender’s ability comes not just from physical ability, but smarts on the pitch. “I think what has made me such a solid player is how I read the game,” he tells AFC. “I’ve learned over the years from my past coaches on how to read the game and play simple as possible. My main strengths are communication and my vision.” Rudland agrees with this assessment, as he says, “He has other intangibles like his leadership and work rate which will fit nicely into our team culture as well.” Given the leadership The Mighty Oak have had in the past from its center backs from the likes of Jack Cawley, among a plethora of others, it is clear that the Jenison native is a perfect fit in the squad.
For the newest member of the club, AFC is not a foreign side to him. “I went to a few games last year and I really enjoyed the atmosphere that was created by the players and the fans,” he said. As for his knowledge of the coaching staff, he put trust in his coaching staff on the collegiate level, “I did not know of Eric beforehand, but my coach spoke very highly of him so I knew I’d be in good hands.” With the interest by Rudland in Nicholson as a player, combined with the trust of the player in those who have already helped him develop, it certainly seems to be yet another stellar match between club and player. The cultural fit continues to remain a key point in identifying potential players.
Given that this will be his first season with the club, and considering his status as a high-level collegiate player, Nicholson is looking at development on a personal level for this season. The defender said, “I’m hoping to grow as a person and as a player while under a fantastic coaching staff and playing with high level players.” With returning players like Stephen Turnbull and Matthieu Braem joining him in the line of defense, plus multiple newcomers yet to be announced as well, Nicholson will be surrounded by plenty of top-level athletes to grow in both categories.
Nicholson is also looking forward to not just personal levels, but, as he put it, “I’m also very excited to experience a great atmosphere that has been put in place by the team and the fans.” He continued on, telling AFCAA fans, “I want the fans of AFCAA to know that I am going to give my everything on and off the pitch to bring them another winning season.” Between the positive attitude, and the on-the-field ability, once again an outstanding in-state player will be joining the club’s ranks.