Kayla Bradby didn’t have a lot of time to get ready to play high school soccer.
She started a year before she started high school.
Bradby is a sophomore at Penn Charter and she’s currently in her third year as a starter on the Quakers soccer team. The midfielder has been a key player since she arrived, but she’s certainly more comfortable now that she’s in her third year than she was when she joined the team in eighth grade.
“When I first went out for the team, if you’re in eighth grade, you can only make the varsity team if you’re a starter, so when the first game came and I found out I was a starter, I was so excited,” said Bradby, who lives in Morrell Park. “So I was happy to make the team, but it was a lot harder. I played club soccer, but when you’re playing high school, you’re playing against people who are bigger, stronger and faster. It wasn’t easy.
“I just tried my best to play, and I had a lot of help. We had a lot of good players who helped me get better, and playing helped me a lot. I’m a lot more comfortable.”
Now she’s comfortable being a champion.
Last week, Bradby and her teammates downed Westtown 1-0 in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association girls soccer final at Immaculata University.
Kaila Rahn, of Somerton, scored the lone goal on a cross by Maggie Boice to help the Quakers win. Penn Charter posted a pair of shutouts, one in the semifinals and another in the championship game.
“We did well in the tournament before, but winning it is really the greatest feeling,” Bradby said. “It felt so good because we have a very good team and we played well all season. It meant everything to us. We wanted it so bad.”
Bradby did her part all season, playing the midfield position to perfection.
A capable scorer, Bradby did the bulk of her work being the setup person, getting the ball to her teammates and letting them cash in.
It’s a job she enjoys.
“That’s always what I’ve been good at,” said Bradby, who also plays for Philly Soccer. “I like doing it because I’m pretty fast and I bring the ball down and I have good vision. And we have a lot of players who can score. I like setting them up. When they score, we all score.”
Bradby has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember, and it should be no surprise considering her family.
Her grandfather was a longtime assistant coach at Archbishop Ryan under George Todt. Her father was the head coach at Holy Family after starring as a player growing up, and her brother Ryan, a senior, is a top player this year for the Quakers.
She learned soccer by hanging with them.
“I always loved soccer,” said Bradby, who also competes on the basketball and lacrosse teams at Penn Charter. “I love all the sports, but soccer is definitely my best sport. I try to be really aggressive out there. I think I get that by having an older brother.”
She follows in her brother’s footsteps on the soccer field, but don’t look for her to play his other sport.
This year, Ryan Bradby was the kicker for the Quakers football team. And because of her strong leg, Bradby would probably make a great kicker for Tom Coyle’s squad next year. But right now, she has no plans on trying the new sport.
“I’ve talked about it, but not necessarily (will I try out),” Bradby said. “I don’t know if I want to do it. I like the sports I’m playing now and soccer is my main sport, I want to keep playing that.”
Soccer is her focus now, although she is looking forward to getting right back into the swing of things with basketball and after that, lacrosse.
“I like being busy, I don’t mind not having any time off,” Bradby said. “I play soccer all year, too. I’m always doing something, but I love sports.”
Bradby and Boice aren’t the only girls with local ties to help the Quakers bring home the independent school state championship.
Other Northeast Quakers include Kaila Rahn, Kait Haughey, Riley McDade, Kaylee Murphy, Toni Linus, Kaitlyn Hnatkowsky, Kait Carter, Olivia Linus, Irish McCuen, Bella Toomey, Molly McMahon and Miranda Listman. The coaches, Darci Spencer, Ashley Maher and Chelsea Czarnek, also have ties to the Northeast.
And there’s a good chance the Quakers could get used to bringing home championships.
The team has advanced deep into the tournament in each of the last three years, and Bradby believes this could happen again next year.
“I think we’ll be good again next year,” Bradby said. “We have a lot of good players on the team, and it helps that we won it. We know what it takes. And we’ll want it again. I think we could be good again next year.”