Twinsburg High School has produced a fair number of professional American football players over the years.
However, Twinsburg now has its first ever professional in the world's brand of football.
Brad Stuver was selected with the 32nd pick in Major League Soccer's SuperDraft Jan. 17 by the Montreal Impact.
A 2009 graduate of Twinsburg, Stuver joins the Impact after starting for four years as goaltender at Cleveland State University. He was the first goalkeeper selected in the draft.
The Impact opened its 2013 training camp Jan. 21. So far, Stuver said the experience has been good and the culture switch hasn't been too much of a problem, save for one issue.
"My French is awful," Stuver said, with a laugh. "It's a great opportunity. It's kind of cold up here, but everyone has been good to me."
Stuver said he has yet to sign a contract with the Impact, noting he is basically on trial with the team. He said the Impact has not specified any expectations for him during the preseason.
"It all depends on how much I impress them," Stuver said. "I'm going to push for at least the second spot, if not the first spot."
Interestingly, all three goaltenders currently on the Impact roster are Ohio natives.
MLS veteran Troy Perkins was Montreal's starting goaltender at the end of last season and remains on the roster. Former University of Akron goaltender Evan Bush also is on the roster.
"The older guys have been very accommodating," Stuver said.
Stuver leaves CSU having rewritten the school's career records for minutes played (6,397). He finished third all-time for goals against average (1.13), saves (292) and shutouts (20).
During his senior season with the Vikings, Stuver was named second-team All-Horizon League. He was named MVP of the Horizon League Tournament, as he earned shutouts vs. Valparaiso in the semifinals (1-0) and Loyola of Chicago in the final (2-0). He led CSU to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1980.
Stuver credits his Viking coaches for helping prepare him for the pro game. He said he was getting some attention for MLS teams during the combine, but noted it was "a big shock" for him to go in the SuperDraft, especially as the first goaltender selected in the draft.
"That was one of the biggest shocks: To have a goaltender from a small Division I school chosen as the first one," Stuver said. "It's great for me, great for the program and great for my coaches."
Stuver said he's about 15 credits shy of graduating from CSU with a degree in biology/pre-medicine. While he's concentrating on soccer for now, he said he still plans to graduate "as quickly as I can."
Stuver was named All-Ohioan during his senior year at Twinsburg. He said he's proud to be the first Tiger to reach the pro ranks.
"Twinsburg was a very soccer-rich community," Stuver said. "It was up and coming when I was there. I hope it inspires the younger generation to see that someone from a small town like Twinsburg can make it."
Twinsburg boys soccer coach Mike Lally said he knew his former goaltender had huge potential.
"Brad always set goals for himself," Lally said. "I think if you would have talked to him at age eight or nine, he would have said he wanted to play professionally. People recognized early on he was special."
Lally said the intangibles have been Stuver's biggest strengths during his career.
"He's always been a great shot stopper, but I've always felt Brad's best part of his game is a that he is a great leader," Lally said. "One of the other good things about Brad is, he always works at his deficiencies. I think that's a great quality in player."
Stuver admitted the process of moving to the professional ranks has been a bit of whirlwind, but he's ready for the future.
"There will be an adjustment, but I think I'm up for the challenge," Stuver said. "It's still settling in. Once I sign that contract, it will be much easier."
Lally said he has no doubt Stuver can be successful at the pro level.
"I think goaltenders have a long shelf life," Lally said. "I don't know the Montreal goalkeeping situation, but I would not surprised to see him get a start."
Montreal will open the 2013 season at Seattle Sounders FC March 2.