As soccer players go, goalkeepers are generally overlooked. They rarely get the glory of scoring the gamewinner and are often the scapegoat when a team loses. But any soccer player will tell you a good keeper makes life on the field a lot easier for a team.
Take a good keeper and replace it with a great keeper, and you come up with BYU’s junior goalkeeper, Brian Hale.
“You can always count on him, for sure,” teammate Colby Bauer said. “He is just an athlete.”
Hale has played on the men’s soccer team for three years and started for the last two. His talent and leadership have been invaluable for the Cougars.
“Brian is our oldest, our most experienced (goalkeeper) and has seen the most situations,” coach Brandon Gilliam said. “There is a comfort level when he is in, because you know he’s seen more situations, gotten us out of more situations and allowed us to win games sometimes that we probably shouldn’t.
“(He) has a presence about him,” Gilliam continued. “Whenever he is on the field, you know he is there. You always know Brian is in goal, because he has that presence.”
Hale gets much of his competitive nature and talent from his family. Soccer is in his blood. Hale is the middle of five kids in his family. When asked about how soccer got started in his family, he attributed it to his older brother.
“My whole family plays,” Hale said. “Blaine, the oldest, started it and got us all going.”
The Utah Surf, formerly known as the Dynamo, is one of Utah’s premier club programs and was started by Hale’s brother; his older sister Jess is the girls’ director.
“It’s hard to play and be serious when we play against each other,” Jess Hale said. “We laugh a lot, but secretly we are all competitive. If we play on the same team against other people, then we are super competitive.”
This competitive nature drives Hale on the field, but it hasn’t stopped him from being a team player.
“On our team, he is the guy who grabs the bags without anyone asking him,” Bauer said. “He cleans up and compliments people. He is just that type of guy, just genuine.”
When asked about his teammates, Hale was nothing but positive and complimentary, really displaying the leadership and support he has become known for by his teammates, both on and off the field.
Hale had a great opportunity to train with the professional Real Salt Lake squad here in Utah prior to the 2012 season. He spent three months working with and learning from coaches and players that play on the highest level in the United States.
“It was neat, a good experience,” Brian Hale remarked. “It was a different style of play, so there was a lot to learn. The coaches knew a lot and were able to help me with a lot of little things.”
Because BYU plays in a semi-professional league known as the Premier Development League, the style of play is a lot faster than it would normally be on the university club circuit. Hale pointed out the similarities between training with RSL and playing in the PDL, but he was quick to note that there were some differences.
“It is definitely close,” he said. “But I think there are some slight differences. Which is why they play in the MLS (Major League Soccer) and we play in the semi-pros.”
Soccer has shaped Hale’s life, both on and off the field.
“He has a strong personality,” Gilliam said. “He’s not super talkative, more of a quiet guy, but he walks and acts like he knows who he is and is comfortable with who he is.”
“Soccer has taught me that you get out of something what you put in,” Brian Hale said. “My parents always told me to work hard. I think if you work and you’re doing your best, things will work out.”
“We’re hoping that each keeper behind him will grow into the same thing,” Gilliam said.
Working hard and knowing who you are is what BYU soccer is all about. It’s what the coaches want, and it is what Hale has become.