Brad Flanagan looks like a soccer player. And why not? It’s a family tradition now. Lake Highlands’ leading scorer is following in the footsteps of older brother Brian, who currently plays for Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.
About 12 years ago, a next-door neighbor named Bobby Lonergan introduced soccer to the Flanagan family, who took to it like ducks on water. Even Dad, a “Robert Redford” lookalike, according to his middle son, got interested in playing.
“Everybody tells dad that he looks like Redford,” Flanagan says. “He even won a trip to France a couple of years back because of it. Sometimes he says he gets tired of people talking about his comparison, but deep down I don’t think he minds too much. He plays in the old men’s league now, where the ball moves a little slower.”
Having a good time for Brad Flanagan, an 18-year-old senior, means using his 4.6 40-yard-dash speed to full advantage. He competes not only on the soccer tundra, where he plays year-round, but also in the defensive secondary for the powerful Wildcats football team.
Last football season, he racked up 28 solo tackles, 22 assists, two sacks and one interception, and punted for an injured Philip Dawson for part of the season. Not bad for Flanagan, a blonde, 5-foot-10, 160-pound soccer cornerback, who knows his bread and butter is using his powerful left leg to reach the back of the net.
Flanagan currently leads the Lake Highlands soccer varsity with eight goals and four assists. Coach Frank Gidwani calls him a verbal leader who isn’t afraid to take charge. Flanagan, who plays midfield, has combined with forward Justin Lemmon (seven goals) to give the Wildcats a solid one-two scoring punch and a legitimate shot at the district title this season.
Flanagan has refined his dribbling and shooting skills for 12 of his 18 years through club soccer, where Dallas’ best go head-to-head and toe-to-toe. His mother, Karen, is heavily involved in running the club league along with her interest in the local Lake Highlands Soccer Association.
The Lake Highlands native has played for the Hornets of the LHSA the past two seasons. He says those games can be even more competitive than high school soccer.
“On club teams, kids can play together for years, and you can build up some pretty serious rivalries,” Flanagan says.
Along the way, he has become friends with several Dallas Sidekicks, including former defensive specialist Doc Lawson and Kevin Smith, both of whom he calls good role models for aspiring players. Still, he prefers to compare himself to his older brother.
“I’d really love to earn a soccer scholarship to Midwestern State and play soccer with my brother,” Flanagan says with a smile. As to who’s better, he diplomatically replies, “Well, I’m faster, but his skills are more developed. When he’s home on vacation we have some good battles in the backyard.”
Flanagan has a multitude of interests outside the soccer arena. He is active in the Drug Free Youth In Texas program and Young Life.
He also coaches two youth club teams, has a steady girlfriend, love’s mom’s homemade lasagna, and aspires to operate in a new field someday as a dentist and oral surgeon.
Flanagan maintains a solid B average in the classroom, where he enjoys the daily challenge of trigonometry and elementary analysis. Away from studying and soccer, he keeps a brotherly eye on the youngest soccer protégé in the family, Blake, 11, who is already showing an abundance of talent.
“Blake may end up being the best of all the kids,” says Flanagan with a sense of sibling pride. “He grew up playing soccer, and he’s really coming along well.”
For Flanagan, success in his final high school season is crucial for earning a college scholarship. His team is expected to contend for the district championship and was off to an 8-4 start.
The goals have been coming quickly for Flanagan. His pre-game rituals of putting his left sock on first and carrying a little Wildcat in his bag seem to be working.
“I can tell a difference in my play this season,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m stronger and faster than last year and football is part of the reason. Now if we could only get that football crowd at our soccer games. That would really be great.”