The recruiting challenge for coaches at schools like Hendrix College is that you not only have to find talented athletes that can play at the college level, you have to find those that qualify to the high academic standards that are in place at the school. Qualifying to go to school there is most often the tougher proposition.
That’s why it’s no small deal when they find someone and sign them to a National Letter of Intent. And why it was a big deal for everyone when Bryant senior goal-keeper, Arron Sahlmann, officially signed on Monday.
Sahlmann, the son of Dustin and Shea Sahlmann, has had 39 saves this season including four during shootouts.
“Tremendous work ethic, his love for the game, his passion,” said Hornets head coach Richard Friday, when asked what the Warriors were getting. “He shows up, every morning, we do 6 o’clock finishing and he’s there every single day. His dedication and his commitment.
“When we talked to him at the beginning of the year, he said, ‘I want to do this.’ We said, ‘Okay, if that’s what you want to do then this is what you have to do to get there,’ the coach noted. “And he still has some work to do but I think that desire — he’s not the tallest. He’s not the fastest. But he works harder than anybody else I’ve seen. And it shows because he made tremendous jumps from whether or not he would’ve gone to college and played or not last year to now, this year, looking into going and playing, and coaches being interested in him.
“If he keeps that up for another four years, he could probably go play in a junior league or developmental league or something like that, going on to the next level,” Friday asserted. “He’s a good talent.”
“I learned under Coach Friday and Coach (Jason) Hay that working hard is the biggest thing you can do,” Sahlmann related. “If you work hard, anything’s possible, academics, athletics — anything you want in life, if you work hard you can achieve it.”
Asked about the process of getting together with Hendrix head coach Matt Kern, Sahlmann said, “It was really all about contacting the coaches — they contacted me — and getting the strenuous stuff done like filling out paperwork, applying and all that fun stuff. Getting accepted — that was kind of nerve-wracking. It took a little bit. I finally got a letter and I was like, ‘Yessss.’
“He’s done well,” Friday said. “As you know, we’ve allowed a lot more goals this year than we did last year. But I think that has to do a lot with the players in front of him. Technically, he likes playing the ball at his feet, which, when you know the game, that’s moving up to the next level, that’s important. He makes the saves he needs to make. I think if he works a little more on his athleticism, he could probably get to a lot more.”
“My reactions are pretty descent,” Sahlmann said of his game. “I feel like I can read the game well, so I try to talk a lot to my team. I think that helps me out a lot, telling them where to shift and who to cover coming in.”
Asked about the Hornets’ season, Sahlman said, “We’ve had our ups and downs. We started up pretty good then we kind of petered out but we’re trying to just get through and try to get back where we were, trying to find our form again.
“We’ve had good games,” he noted. “We beat Northside twice, which is really good. No one else has done that the last couple of years. But then we’ve lost to teams we shouldn’t have lost to.
“It’s like, I don’t know, we go in thinking that we’re going to win so we kind of don’t play to the best of our ability,” he explained “Throughout the year, it’s a trend. We’ll come in and we’ll be down a couple of goals and we’ll have to get it back. We get it back. We’re good enough to get it back. It’s just if we can sustain that from the very start, we can win State this year, I think.”
Those wins over the traditional powerhouse Grizzlies certainly indicate what the Hornets are capable of. Sahlmann admitted that provided him with the season highlight so far.
“When we beat Northside at Northside, we won on penalties, that was probably the moments when I was like, ‘We’re good.’ That’s when we realized we’re good,” he said. “I saved one (during the shootout penalty kicks) and they missed a couple. During the game, I had to make a couple of saves. It was stressful.”