Isaac Edwards was barely a teenager, if even one, when he first told Josh Trejo he planned to play college soccer.
Back then, Trejo coached Edwards at the club level; he would eventually rejoin Edwards as the head coach at Polk County. Through it all, Edwards remained steadfast in his dream to continue his career after his high school playing days ended.
Thursday afternoon, Trejo stood behind Edwards and watched as that long-held vision became reality, the recent PCHS graduate signing a letter-of-intent with Milligan College during a small ceremony in Polk County’s field house.
With signature complete, it was tough at times to tell who cherished the moment more.
“It means so much,” Edwards said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity Milligan has given me and I’m just really excited to pursue it.”
“I’ve been coaching him since he was in sixth grade with the club level,” Trejo said. “He’s like family to me, so to see him accomplish his dream. . . it touches a good place in my heart. I’m very proud of him.”
The Western Highlands Conference Player of the Year and a 1A All-State selection, Edwards helped lead Polk County to a 19-3 record last season with 25 goals and 16 assists. He finished his career with 58 goals and 39 assists, and it’s that type of scoring that drew the attention of Milligan.
“They said they needed a goal scorer, and that’s what I play, so hopefully I can get it done,” Edwards said. “I love where (Milligan) is at. I really like the coaching staff. They’re really good to me.”
An NAIA Division II school and member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference along with nearby Montreat College, Milligan finished 6-11 last season, but had the conference’s top player in senior Roberto Fernandez Garrido, who led the nation in scoring. The Buffs featured 15 international players on last season’s roster, just one adjustment that Trejo said Edwards will have to make when he joins the program based near Johnson City, Tenn.
“Milligan’s a big school when it comes to foreign players, so he’s definitely gonna have to adjust to that,” Trejo said. “For him, being as strong as he is, he’s going in at a good weight. I think that they’re just gonna shape him in and form him into the player that they need him to be.
“He’s very ambitious. That’s going to be one thing that they’re going to be looking for, dedication. He’s also fearless and he’s strong, he’s got good strength. He’s a playmaker. You can play him good passes. I think Milligan’s gonna use him very well.”
A college soccer player at Emory and Henry, Trejo said the pace of play will also be an adjustment for Edwards.
“Definitely speed of play, just because high school level. you’ve got a bunch of people that probably haven’t played as many times, or higher level division such as club,” Trejo said. “But in college. people are going to be stronger, people are going to be faster and you’ve got people coming from all over the world coming to the school.
“I know it’s going to be a totally new level for him, but I think that over the years he’ll grow to become something really big at Milligan.”
With one dream achieved, Edwards is ready to start on the next and grateful for those who put him on the path to achieve those ambitions.
“I really want to thank everybody, my parents, my coaches, for putting all the extra hours in with me,” he said. “My parents were taking me to club practices, high school practices and really supported me from day one.
“This means everything.”