By Kody Acevedo
Nathan Flood can still remember the moment he realized his little brother was a better soccer player than he was.
Nathan was a junior in high school, playing in a California tournament for his club soccer team, when an unusual moment happened.
The soccer scouts, who were originally there to watch Nathan and his teammates, became distracted. There was something more interesting, more appealing to their eyes than the players on the field.
It was Ryan—Nathan’s youngest brother, who had barely started middle school around that time.
“Ryan came out on the field at half time, and I’d say about 50 percent of the scouts that were out there came over and asked our coach about him instead of
us,” Nathan said.
It was that moment that Nathan, now 24, knew his little brother Ryan, now 18, would far surpass his level of soccer skills.
“It kind of just solidified all the feelings I had about him as a soccer player. I always knew he was way better.”
Ryan didn’t do anything special that day. He just kicked the ball around and took a couple of shots at the goal. But everyone, including Nathan and the scouts, saw something special that day.
Nathan has moved on from his soccer days, but Ryan is a senior at Corona del Sol High School and is still turning heads when he steps out on the field.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Aztec has helped lead Corona to the number one spot in the Arizona Conference 6A Rankings, ahead of Phoenix Brophy Prep, with 22 goals and 20 assists on the season, according to Max Preps.
Nathan is the eldest of the Flood brothers. The middle brother, Kody, 22, was also an established athlete.
Nathan believes the reason Ryan became such a talented player was because he always had to keep up with the older boys.
“One of the reasons he’s gotten this far is that he’s been around my other brother and I for so long, trying to keep up with us because we were both so much older than he is, that the competitiveness in him kind of forced him to be a lot better than he would have been otherwise.”
Nathan was a member of the 2010 Corona State Championship team and played for a short time at Mesa Community College.
But anywhere he went, there was Ryan. Sitting on the sideline, developing his passion for the game that now fuels his success.
“He was always around. Everyone knew him,” Nathan said.
Now, it’s Nathan who watches in awe of his little brother, who not long ago stole the spotlight at that California tournament and never gave it back.
“I’m extremely happy and proud of him. He’s worked really, really hard to get where he is. So, I’m
happy that everything is working out for him the way he’d hoped,” Nathan said.
Ryan is considered Division II eligible and is working toward a professional soccer career.
“I know his goal ultimately is to play professionally and make money that way, so I hope that works out for him,” Nathan said.
“If not, I hope he can find something like coaching or physical training that will put him close enough to the game that will make him happy.
“He loves the game more than anyone I’ve ever seen. The dedication—and the time he’s put into this game and how much of his life he’s spent doing it—I’ve never seen anyone that in love with the sport.”