It's been a busy offseason for the Saint Ignatius soccer program's two All-Americans.
Matthew McLaughlin and Kyle Folds have been showered with accolades from far and wide, from All-Greater Cleveland recognition to All-American status by Allstate. In between school and the holidays, the two have traversed the country during weekends and breaks for club and all-star games.
Just over a week ago, Matthew McLaughlin committed to the University of Notre Dame. On Monday evening, Kyle Folds announced his commitment to Indiana University.
"It’s always been a dream to play college soccer," Folds said.
Folds' journey to this point has been filled with hard work, paid off with success. The Berea native entered Saint Ignatius as a very talented player. However, breaking the starting lineup at Saint Ignatius is a difficult task for a youngster.
Augmenting his talent with a strong work ethic, Folds surfaced in the starting lineup as a sophomore. Folds started 22 games, playing 1,500 minutes. Along the way, Folds tallied 8 goals and 3 assists, good for 19 points. Colleges began to take notice of the promising sophomore.
In the offseason leading up to his junior year, Folds attended a number of camps at various big schools. A host of programs showed interest, but Louisville stood out to Folds. The Cardinals drew a verbal commitment from Folds before the start of the 2018 season.
Folds then enjoyed a superb junior campaign. Playing every position on the field, the tall, quick-footed player racked up 9 goals and 2 assists for 20 points for the Soccer Cats. Folds started all 22 contests, recording 1,476 minutes of playing time. Folds even made SportsCenter's Top 10 with an unforgettable marvel of a goal against St. Edward in September.
"He's got a unique skillset," said Head Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin '85. "He's strong-bodied with good feet and a good soccer mind. When you combine all of that stuff together on the field, it makes you really effective. He's very versatile, and that's appealing to a college coach as well. You want kids who can do a lot of different things."
In December, Ken Lolla stepped aside as Louisville's leader after leading the program to 11 NCAA Championship berths in 13 seasons at the helm. As a result, Folds decided to open the door to new options.
During his recruitment, Folds had been particularly impressed with Indiana's and Ohio State's programs. Last winter, Folds attended one of Indiana's camps and walked away very impressed.
So when Indiana came calling, Folds couldn't say no.
"I really liked all of Indiana's coaches, I thought they were great guys. The coaching staff is unbelievable and really nice," Folds said. "I wanted to play for great people like I have in the past with Coach Whelan and Coach McLaughlin. That was the deciding factor."
Last winter, Folds walked away impressed at Indiana's campus, calling it "very nice." Indiana has a great business, program, too. Folds has plenty of time to decide on a major, but he's leaning towards business. Whatever his field, Folds has a promising career ahead of him, as evidenced by his 3.8 GPA.
Besides the pretty campus and excellent academics, Indiana has a titanic soccer program. The Hoosiers have claimed eight national titles, reaching the NCAA College Cup regularly. This past season, Indiana rolled to a 20-3-1 record, losing in the semifinal to Maryland, the eventual national champs.
"It's like playing basketball at Duke or football at Alabama in comparison," Folds said. "Indiana is usually the number one team in the country."
His coach at Saint Ignatius is very proud of his talented student-athlete.
"It's an incredible commitment. Indiana is one of the best soccer programs in the country," McLaughlin said. "Historically, you could argue that it is the best. In the last 20 years, they've won more national championships than any other program. They've won eight now. They're excited to have Kyle – they see a lot in him. They see a lot that can translate to their style and their program.
"I'm happy for him – he's worked really hard, and this has been a dream of his for a long time to play at the highest level, and this is an extremely high level."
Folds follows in the footsteps of another Saint Ignatius soccer great – Matt Foldesy '12. The outstanding midfielder spent two years at the University of Akron before transferring to Indiana. During his time at Saint Ignatius, Foldesy helped guide the Wildcats to state titles in 2010 and 2011, along with a national title in 2010. Foldesy was named the Gatorade Ohio Boys Soccer Player of the Year for 2011-12. The North Olmsted native is now an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator for Ohio State's program.
Folds will also trail Sean Wracher, the Football Cats' talented long snapper over the past two seasons.
For Folds, playing at such a high-powered program fulfills a lifelong dream. More than anything else, he's thankful for the people who have helped him attain his aspirations.
"I want to thank all of the coaches I've ever had – Coach Mike, Coach Dore, and all of my teammates I play with every day who push me to be better," Folds said. "I'm thankful for my family – I thank God for this opportunity."
On behalf of Saint Ignatius athletics, congratulations, Kyle!