By: Daniel Stickradt
MICHIGAN JAGUARS SOCCER: Novi's Kyle Bandyk rides transition wave to Dream Team status
MICHIGAN JAGUARS SOCCER:
BY DAN STICKRADT
Stickradt Media Group Communications
Michigan Jaguars Communications
NOVI — Who would have known that a lock-down defender can emerge as a goal-scoring sniper.
Such is the soccer life of Kyle Bandyk.
A senior at Novi High School and a longtime member of the Michigan Jaguars club soccer team, Bandyk’s transition from the backfield to the front line was not just smooth as ice, but it was award-winning.
Bandyk was recently named both to the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association All-State Dream Team and the All-State First Team Division 1 after a brilliant senior campaign.
He was fourth in the Mr. Soccer voting on the 11-member Dream Team, behind Traverse City West senior forward Dalton Michael (Mr. Soccer), East Kentwood senior goalkeeper Haris Dzafic and Rochester Stoney Creek senior midfielder Pablo Kulyckyj.
“That is quite an honor,” offered Bandyk, who stands a powerful 6-foot-2 and checks in at around 185 pounds. “To be mentioned up there with some of the best players in the state is amazing.”
Bandyk rang up a team-leading 27 goals this season to go along with seven assists for a school ranked in the Division 1 top-20 the whole season. He recorded four hat tricks on the campaign and even had a five-goal game against South Lyon East.
He led Novi to a district championship in a district group that featured four ranked teams. Bandyk also helped the Wildcats win a regional crown and reach the Division 1 Final Four before bowing out to eventual state champion East Kentwood (1-0).
Not bad for a player who spent most of his high school and club soccer seasons playing defense.
“I was a defenseman for years, and have played some center back or marking back,” admitted Bandyk. “I used to be pushed up for restarts a lot during high school and even club ball. My (high school) coach knew I was big and strong, so he moved me up top for virtually the whole season. It worked out. I had a lot of fun.”
With his versatility of being able to dominate in the air, hold the back line on defense, get into the penalty box on restarts and torment opposing defenses with his knack for the goal — on both the club and high school levels — Bandyk drew the attention of some college coaches, including one Division I school. Bandyk committed earlier this year to University of Detroit men’s soccer coach Nicholas Deren to play for the Titans in 2017. He signed his NCAA Letter-Of-Intent on Feb. 1.
“They were the first D-I school to really go after me. I really liked the coaching staff there, too, and it is so close to home,” noted Bandyk. “I can get down there in less than 30 minutes. My family and friends will get the chance to see me play occasionally. It is the right fit for me.
“They really like my versatility and the fact that I am not one-dimensional,” continued Bandyk. “I will play wherever they put me.”
Bandyk also carries a fine 3.83 grade-point-average and scored a 26 on his ACT, proving he is worthy in the classroom as well as on the soccer pitch. He is leaning towards going into business school at UDM.
Bandyk got his start with the Jaguars at age 8 and climbed the ladder of success with various age-group teams, mostly as a defender. In his MRL days, Bandyk was also given an occasional shot to play up top at forward — a position he now relishes.
He spent three years on varsity at Novi, helping his team to winning records all three years and to a top-20 ranking all three seasons while playing a rigorous schedule in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association.
Loyal to his club, Bandyk did not consider switching to one of the Academy clubs, which are a 10-month commitment and do not coincide with the high school season.
“I’ve always loved the Jags, “ he admitted. “I always love playing for my high school, too. I’ve played on some great teams with some great players. I really had no interest in switching, to be honest. I still got some scholarship offers and will play Division I college soccer.”
Now, Bandyk will continue playing on the indoor and outdoor circuit with the Jags before heading off to Division I college soccer next August.
“Soccer has been part of most of my life,” noted Bandyk. “I used to play basketball, too, but really just loved soccer.”
But does Kyle Bandyk love offense or defense more?
“I just love playing soccer,” he continued. “Like I said, I love to be out on the field and will play wherever they want me. As long as I can help my team compete and win games. I am fine with that.”