Colin Hanley started off scoring goals, not stopping them.
But one day, that all changed.
He was around 9 years old at the time, playing forward for his recreation team when the goalkeeper got hurt.
“I was the next biggest kid on the team, so they put me in,” Hanley recalled. “It was a drastic difference. I did really well and liked it.”
He’s been there ever since, starting the past three seasons at St. Paul’s .
His stellar senior season in the net earned him Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year on Monday.
“Honestly, it feels insane to win it,” Hanley said about winning the award. “I don’t know how to react.”
While Hanley may not have known how to react to winning the honor, he always knew how to react on the pitch.
He recorded 21 shutouts to help lead the Wolves (31-0-3) to their second straight Division I state championship. He posted a 0.3 goals-against average and didn’t give up any goals in St. Paul’s five postseason games. The Wolves gave up only nine goals all season and didn’t give up a goal the last eight weeks of the season.
“When he had to come up with big saves, he did it, time and time again,” Jesuit coach Hubie Collins said. “He looks like a professional goalkeeper.”
But Hanley doesn’t take all of the credit for his success.
“I have played on a lot of different teams, and we have never had this solid of a back line before,” Hanley said. “Going into the season, we knew we were going to be strong because we have played with each for years and we knew how each other worked. A lot of shots were stopped before they even got a chance to get to me. My back line did an amazing job, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Hanley is one of just three keepers to win Louisiana’s Gatorade honor since the award began in 1986. He is the first keeper to win it since Jesuit’s Andrew Mullins in 2007. Newman’s Britton Chauvin won it in 2002.
Hanley says his position is so much more than just stopping goals though.
“You have to be able to read defenses, organize your players and be good with your feet,” he said. “You have to be a leader now. It’s pretty much the athletic side and the strategic side.”
Hanley is the third St. Paul’s athlete to win the Gatorade honor. He joins Adrian McInnis (2011) and Stephen Pate (1997).
The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Hanley has maintained a 4.16 GPA in the classroom. A member of the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, he has volunteered on behalf of youth soccer programs.
“It’s difficult to balance both, but when you get in the swings of things, it’s easy,” he said. “It seems to be easier during soccer season because you’re so focused trying to get everything done. You can’t have one without the other.”
Hanley will play at Niagara University next season and plans to major in biology. He said the biggest adjustment will be getting used to the cold weather, although he has lived in the northeast before.
He was born in Pennsylvania.
But as he has shown since his position change from forward to keeper years ago, he tends to adjust just fine. It’s a switch he’s glad he made.
“Definitely,” he said. “I love goal-keeping. It’s my love.”