LOUISVILLE, KY. – A program that is steadily building a national brand just got another momentum boost on Tuesday.
Former Lipscomb men’s soccer standout Micah Bledsoe signed a contract Tuesday to begin his professional career with the Louisville City FC of the United Soccer League.
“I was pumped when I got the word they were wanting to sign me,” Bledsoe said. “I wanted to get those papers signed as quickly as possible so I could get to work.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to try and play professionally one day, but I didn’t think that an opportunity would happen. It’s surreal for sure and I am grateful I got an opportunity.”
Bledsoe will serve as the third goalkeeper on a roster that also includes former a former ASUN player in Greg Ranjitsingh from Mercer and Tim Dobrowolski from Loyola.
“Micah is a guy who has tons of potential,” Lipscomb head coach Charles Morrow said. “He has great size. And goalkeeper is a position that traditionally takes longer to develop. He will continue to get better and the environment at Louisville city will help him that much more.
“He will push the goalkeeper corps to be better. His potential is really high. I don’t think Louisville City would have signed him if they didn’t think the same thing.”
Bledsoe helped rewrite the record books during his four-year stay in Nashville. He immediately took over the keeper position in his first season at Lipscomb and played well enough to earn ASUN-All Freshman honors.
The 6-foot-4 netminder hung up his Bison uniform as the program’s all-time leader in wins (26), save percentage (.735) and clean sheets (15). He also finished just three stops shy of setting the school’s all-time mark for career saves and was a 5-time ASUN Defensive Player of the Week.
Even with a step up to the professional level, Bledsoe feels the transition will not be a problem. He will train with goalkeepers coach Thabane Sutu, who developed Ranjitsingh from a rookie to a national team selection last fall by Trinidad and Tobago.
“Louisville plays a very similar system to what we played at Lipscomb, so that I will be familiar with that,” Bledsoe said. “Ultimately there are some things I need to sharpen up with my game, but the job is still the same in trying to keep the ball out of the net.
“I am sure there will be an adjustment period, but it shouldn’t be much of one. The shots come in harder and more accurate. I will be ready when my time comes.”
Bledsoe and Coach Morrow both believe the time in Nashville working with the coaching staff at Lipscomb has prepared the keeper for this moment.
“First and foremost I want to thank Charles, Peter Lowry and Stephen Lunney, they are some of the best coaches in the country and I was fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to play under them,” Bledsoe said. “Lunney did a fantastic job of preparing me for this level. As a goalkeeper there is always a lot of work to be done and ultimately he is the one that helped me with my technique.”
“Stephen did a tremendous job with Micah in preparing him for this level,” Morrow said. “I also would like to thank Ryan Wehking for the work he did as our keeper coach prior to Lunney getting here.”
“Goalkeeper is a position that is so hard to get a foot in the door because there are so few opportunities available. What he does with it now is up to him, but he is a guy that is so consistent and unshakeable. I am not worried about Micah.”
Bledsoe was born in Indianapolis and attended high school in Cincinnati, so the opportunity to play much closer to home was a big plus for the former Bisons.
“It’s going to be very nice playing much closer to home. The drive from home is only about half as far as it was to Nashville” Bledsoe said. “It is a perfect situation for me and my family. They will be able to come see me play much more often. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place.”
Louisville City is a new USL franchise that began play in 2014 after principal owner Wayne Estopinal purchased the USL license previously held from Orlando City SC after they became a part of Major League Soccer.
“Louisville City has a great fan base and with it being a new team, the city is very excited,” Bledsoe said. “We are a young team with a good coaching staff and we will have an opportunity to compete for a championship every year.”
Bledsoe is the fourth former Lipscomb Bison to sign a professional contract, behind Garret Pettis, Ben Page and Miguel DaSilva.
“This is great for us in terms of recruiting when they see that we develop professional players,” Morrow said. “Kids will want to come to Lipscomb after seeing we have guys who sign pro contracts after spending four years in our system.”
Bledsoe will travel with Louisville City as the backup keeper on Thursday to Orlando after starter Ranjitsingh got injured last Saturday.