BRADENTON, Fla. – Brad Knighton was with the New England Revolution as they traveled to Bradenton, Fla., on Friday morning, and he was on the field when the Revs kicked off their 13-day preseason trip with a training session at IMG Academy in the late afternoon.
But by late Friday evening, Knighton was headed back to the airport, bound for Wilmington, N.C.
The veteran goalkeeper is making a quick day-trip to his college town, where he’ll be one of four inductees into the UNC-Wilmington Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday. He’s joined in the Seahawks’ 12th Hall of Fame class by golfer Becky (Berzonski) Ogden, softball player Carley (Hughes) Milinichik, and swimmer Kate (Milling) Kling.
Knighton featured in 75 games for UNC-Wilmington from 2003 to 2006, playing more minutes (6,891) than any other goalkeeper in the program’s history. He was a two-time All-State selection, and was twice named All-Conference in the Colonial Athletic Conference, ranking second all-time in goals against average (1.08).
Knighton will be just the second men’s soccer player inducted into the UNC-Wilmington Athletic Hall of Fame, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to attend Saturday’s ceremony.
“It’s a fantastic honor,” Knighton said. “I’m truly blessed to be able to have that achievement. I didn’t expect it. It was a phone call that I got late last year. It’s very humbling.”
Saturday will be a day of celebration for Knighton, but he’ll be on a plane headed back to Florida by the evening, ready to continue fighting for starting minutes under new head coach Brad Friedel.
Knighton started New England’s final three games in 2017 (going 2-0-1), and he’ll be in competition throughout preseason with Cody Cropper – currently in camp with the U.S. National Team after starting 28 games last year – and third-year goalkeeper Matt Turner.
“I’m looking forward to getting up [to Wilmington] and accepting the award, but knowing that I’ve got to come back here and work for my place and work for this team,” Knighton said. “It’ll be enjoyable while I’m there, but I’ll be eager to get back down here with the guys.”