Peter Bellerby/NW Sports PicsGrady Thurman, who attended elementary and middle school in Creswell, finished his high school career in Eugene.

EUGENE – Although he’s finished only one year of college, Grady Thurman says the game of soccer has already taken him on the thrill ride of his life. Now, he just wants to see how long he can make this joyride last. 

“I want to see how far soccer can take me,” Thurman said Thursday. “No particular goal, I just want to keep having fun playing soccer until I can’t play anymore.”

Thurman, a former Creswell resident, is playing this summer for Lane United FC, giving him a unique chance to meet and play against a wide variety of opponents. 

“Just a group of guys from NAIA, community college, and Divisions III, II and I, so it’s a good group of talent and you get to see that there are people all over the world who love this game and play at a high level and you get to make friendships that will last a lifetime with some of these guys you play with every day in the summer,” Thurman said. “They go off to their respective schools and you go off to yours, but you keep in touch over the years. Everyone succeeds, so it’s pretty awesome.”

Born in Corvallis, Thurman said his family bounced around a lot, eventually moving to Pleasant Hill and then Creswell, where his mom opened a popular Cross-fit training gym. After attending Creswell Elementary and Middle schools, Thurman said he and his dad moved to Eugene, so he could attend South Eugene High School. 

“They have a bigger school and a better soccer program,” Thurman said. “My last two years were Covid-interrupted, but we made it to the state semis my freshman year and the quarterfinals my sophomore year. So I enjoyed my time playing soccer there.” 

He moved on to Northwest Nazarene University, a private school in Nampa, Idaho, where he had 13 starts in 15 games as a true freshman, helping the Nighthawks post an 8-8 record. As a defenseman, Thurman helped NNU record a 1.42 GAA and five shutouts. 

His efforts have impressed the coaching staff, including head coach John Galas. 

“Grady’s an easy kid to coach, a great kid, loves to play the game,” Galas said.

Does he have what it takes to be a great player?

“It’s always hard to say, the timing has to be right,” Galas added. “We always try to push all of our players up the ladder – he’s got that fight and desire – it’s a really good group to work with – most of these kids are at some level of college soccer, 90-95 percent are in college. The function of the league is developing kids -- use these 3 months in summer to put them in game situations and sport. And a league that has about 115 teams nationwide.”

“We have a super talented crew here,” Thurman said. “I enjoy playing under John and (assistant coach) Connor (Cappelletti) a lot, and the whole staff, (managing director) Dave (Galas), (general manager) Perry (Hammond), Cesar (Ocampo), the trainer, they’re very involved in your life personally and they want you to be the best player you can be and they’re very invested in you as a person, too. It’s great.” 

If a soccer career doesn’t pan out … 

“I’m studying business and I hope to graduate with a business degree,” Thurman said. “I like to work with my hands, so I wouldn’t mind starting my own trade job, electrical or construction.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep pushing to improve his soccer skills. Grady has two younger brothers – Koen and Finley – who are both excellent high school athletes in their own right. 

“My summers consist of a lot of games with my two brothers,” Grady said. “They both always push me to get better.”