Faith In Goal
Oct. 3, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Michael Goodlett has continued to be a rock for the Memphis men's soccer team in goal this season. The junior from Bolton, Miss., has a 1.49 goals against average on the season and has racked up 38 saves this year. In his third year with the Tigers, Goodlett continues to make plays in goals to keep the U of M in every soccer match they play. In his career, he has a 1.53 goals against average which currently ranks fifth in Memphis history behind goalies including Memphis women's soccer head coach Brooks Monaghan and Sebastian Vecchio, an assistant to Monaghan.
The native of the small town of Bolton, Miss., a town of just over 600 people located to the west of Jackson, has taken nothing for granted in his young life. Goodlett is one who understands that he is only where he is because of the talent he was blessed with from God.
"I don't take anything for granted in life," Goodlett said. "My ability in soccer is just a part of God's plan. I believe he has really blessed me with a lot of opportunities. It is really just up to me to take advantage of those opportunities, but I try not to take my abilities for granted. I really just started turning to God this summer. My mentor, Philip Odom, he was the one who really inspired me to make this spiritual journey and to focus on pleasing God."
Goodlett also credits Kevin Nathaniel, the Director of College Ministries for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Memphis, for being somebody who has helped him along his newfound religious path.
"Rev Kev has really helped me focus more on God," Goodlett said. "He has taught me to really do each and everything you can do to please God and to understand that all of the pain you go through in practice is as a sacrifice for the ability he has given you."
Goodlett understands that he wouldn't be where he is in life and in his soccer career without the love and support of his mother, Sara Goodlett. He credits his mother with being the catalyst for his approach to soccer.
"Growing up I just saw how hard my Mom worked and all of the sacrifices she made as a single parent for me and my two sisters," he said. "I think her work ethic really rubbed off on me. I really get my drive and work ethic from her. Just seeing her ability to stay focused in order to provide financial support for her family. My Mom is my hero."
When Goodlett first wanted to start playing soccer, his mother was somewhat hesitant to let her young son play.
"My mom was kind of reluctant to sign me up to play soccer," Goodlett said. "She really didn't know anything about soccer. I think she probably would have been more comfortable with me playing basketball or football or one of the other more American sports."
That is when Goodlett's unle Adrian "Tony" Goodlett stepped in to convince Michael's mother to let Michael play soccer.
"My uncle told my Mom that she needed to get me into doing some kind of after school activity," Goodlett said. "My uncle thought soccer would be good for me, as something that would keep me busy and would feed my self confidence and self esteem."
Goodlett credits his uncle with being the one was a really a catalyst for his soccer career.
"My uncle kept up with me and would take to practice all the time when I was young," Goodlett said. "He played a tremendous role in my life. My uncle really taught me a lot about life and he really passed down a lot of his wisdom to me. I really looked up to him as a father figure."
Goodlett fit right into soccer from the day he started when he was around eight or nine years old. Within a year the coaches had moved him to goalkeeper, which became a natural fit for Goodlett.
"I really just started learning how to protect the goal and I became good at it," he said. "In my second year of playing soccer, when I was ten years old, I was named to the all-star team."
From that point on Goodlett's soccer career was set in motion. At Clinton High School, he helped lead his team to back-to-back state titles, while recording 13 shutouts as a junior and 12 shutouts as a senior. Goodlett was named Mississippi's Mr. Soccer in his senior season at Clinton High School and was a two-time all-state selection.
His success in high school led him to earning a scholarship from Memphis Head Coach Richie Grant to play soccer for the Tigers. Attending the U of M, made Goodlett the first collegiate athlete in his family and only the third male in his immediate family to attend college.
"I just really think it is a blessing from God to get the opportunity to attend college," Goodlett said. "Where I come from, there are all sorts of other things you can end up doing, but I always envisioned my life being a successful one and staying on the right track and never getting off of that track. That has really been my mindset since I was a child."
A second Goodlett has now become a collegiate athlete. Michael's younger sister, Sasha Goodlett, is a freshman on the women's basketball team for the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.
"My sister used to get about two or three letters a day from different colleges recruiting her to play basketball," he said. "She is 6-5 now. We used to always compete on who was taller growing up. Eventually she just caught up to me. It sounds like she is going to get the opportunity to play some this year as a freshman."
When Michael arrived at the U of M to play he got the chance to start right away. Last year, however, was a change for the goalie. The sophomore took a back seat to Tyler Strom, a senior.
"In all my years of playing before I got to college, I had never sat on the bench," Goodlett said. "I really don't challenge coach's decision. I agree with whatever he thinks gives the team the best chance to win. When it comes to having the best players on the field, if I am not one of them, I just try to stay as positive as possible. On any given day I would much rather have a win and play bad than play my best game ever and lose."
Having earned the starting goalkeeper spot early this season, Goodlett has taken a role as a leader for the young goalies behind him on the depth chart.
"I am really just trying to give them any type of knowledge that can help them out on and off of the field," Goodlett said. "Whether it pertains to school or soccer, I just try to let them know when they are doing something wrong and I think they would do the same."
Next year Goodlett will take over as one of the senior leaders for the Memphis Tigers.
"A lot of guys will be looking up to me and the other seniors next season," he said. "I think the most important for me next season is taking more control of my goal box and to take more control of the team as a leader. Right now I just try to lead through my performance. A big part of leadership is your performance. I believe whenever I make saves the offense gains confidence and it goes the other way as well, whenever the offense scores goal it gives the defense a drive to maintain the lead."
So far this season, their have been some disappointments for the Tigers, starting out 2-7 this year. Goodlett has just tried to stay focused through it all.
"It has been a frustrating season so far," he said. "I believe it is just something every team goes through now and then. It is up to us as a team to take it upon ourselves to just build on it and to just make ourselves better. We just have to overcome the adversity and not let the losses we have had so far get us down."
Goodlett is in the position he is to make an impact on the U of M soccer program as their rock in the goal because of the support and love that his family and God has given him throughout his journey to Memphis. The junior goalie has overcome a lot of adversity to get here and is appreciative of everything he has been given. Look for the junior goalkeeper to continue to make acrobatic saves all season long for Richie Grant and the Tiger men's soccer team.