Olympic dreams

Bryce Peacock, a sixth grader at Warren County Middle School, is a member of the state Olympic Development Program. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Bryce Peacock spends a lot of time on his soccer game, but to him it’s worth it. All of his hard work is starting to really pay off.

Peacock, a sixth grader at Warren County Middle School, recently became part of the Olympic Development Program state soccer team. He represents Virginia for his age group and plays against other top teams from other states.

“It’s fun,” Peacock said of playing for the ODP team. “They always push you to the limit because they want you to be better.”

Peacock said that his team has played in two friendlies already in a tournament format, competing against teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The 12-year old is a goalie, a position he said he really loves.

Bryce Peacock, a goalkeeper for the state Olympic Development Program, dives for a ball in March in Front Royal. Peacock, 12, was selected to the Region I ODP ID camp in November in Arizona. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“It’s tough,” Peacock said. “You have to be really good, get your hands to the ball, footwork really good. You have to be in shape to do it. … I like jumping through the air, catching the ball and saving my team from the goal.”

Peacock’s father, Greg, said his son began playing soccer at age 4. Bryce Peacock also has an older brother, Hunter, who plays for Skyline’s junior varsity team, and a younger brother, Luke, who also plays soccer.

Bryce Peacock said that he enjoys playing with and against his brothers, and that they are very competitive with each other.

Greg Peacock said that Bryce really liked playing at goalkeeper early on. So they looked into getting him some extra lessons working with former Shenandoah University standout Chris Peter, who runs the Shenandoah Soccer Academy in Winchester.

“His initial interest was peaked in goalkeeping with a coach named Chris Lee. So he kind of got him started down that path,” Greg Peacock said. “We got a chance to go work with Chris Peter, and Chris and him just really meshed. They really get each other. He’s able to get a lot out of him, and it kind of took off from there.”

Peter said that Bryce Peacock has a lot of abilities that make him such a good goalkeeper, but he said that the biggest thing is his work ethic.

“Everybody that comes in has the same technique. However, he does different things with that technique by how he trains,” Peter said. “Then how he applies it to game situations really means a lot for him.”

Peter said that one day he had his students work on their abs, and that evening Bryce Peacock went home and did 500 sit-ups on his own.

Bryce Peacock said that he’s learned a lot from Peter, who is also his coach for his club team Epic Freedom, which is based in Charles Town, West Virginia.

“I didn’t know anything about goalie when I went there, and now I know all this,” Bryce Peacock said. “So I’m pretty much thanking him to the end of the world for that.”

Bryce Peacock eventually began working with the Olympic Development Program Academy once a week, and worked with one of their coaches – Sherando graduate Dustin Bucher.

Bucher was a goalkeeper at Sherando and George Mason University. He also worked with Peter at an earlier age. Peter said it’s nice to see Bucher working with and teaching one of his students.

“Dustin was my first goalkeeper student, and Bryce is now being taught by Dustin. So there’s effectively two generations of goalkeepers out there working together, one teaching the next,” Peter said.

Another local student Peter has worked with is Strasburg sophomore Beanie Guthrie, is in Austria and Hungary this week playing in an international tournament.

Bryce Peacock tried out for the state ODP team, and was informed that he made it a couple months ago.

Greg Peacock said that when he plays games, parents aren’t allowed to stay in the same hotel, and it’s a good experience for him.

“He’s got to basically handle himself during the bus ride down, the whole nine yards,” Greg Peacock said. “It’s been pretty cool.”

Bryce Peacock said that he loves representing the state, and he’s really enjoying playing for the state ODP team.

“It’s a big honor to be on there,” he said. “You have to be pretty much the best in your state and the region to be on there.”

Bryce Peacock said the next big goal for him is to make onto the regional ODP team, which would then play against other regions of the country.

Bryce Peacock stays very busy with soccer practices and games throughout the week. He has practices with Epic Freedom on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. He trains at the Shenandoah Soccer Academy for two hours on Saturdays, and also trains with his ODP team on Saturdays. He also works on footwork drills with Peter on Fridays.

Peter said that Bryce Peacock has all the abilities needed to be successful. He said the ODP works a lot on making kids great leaders, and that is something Bryce Peacock is working on becoming.

“They make the kids there at ODP very communicable. They have to talk to one another by first name. They have to know each other. They have to introduce each other if new kids come around. So this is really like a leadership thing that he’s tackling at the moment,” Peter said. “So hard work and leadership are there. He’s a very courageous kid. He’s just a good athletic specimen. So all these things are lining up to be a good goalkeeper.”

Peter said that the most important thing he wants for Bryce Peacock is to learn more about himself and how to be a good person.

“The goal is not that Bryce can become a professional or that Bryce even goes to college and plays soccer. That’s not the goal behind it all,” Peter said. “It’s that he learned the game. That he learned about himself and that he applied all the things that he learned about himself to his life through this game of soccer. We’re really focusing on how to make him a good human being at this moment and soccer is like a vehicle that were doing that through. And he’s having fun in that, and it’s teaching him how to be a man.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com