By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
Josh Bartley enjoyed a magical senior season as a member of the Archbishop Murphy boys soccer team.
In fact, his eye-popping footwork and gaudy statistics (17 goals, 20 assists) prompted the Wildcats’ stadium announcer to nickname him the “Magic Man.”
But as good as Bartley’s season was, being voted The Herald’s 2013 Soccer Player of the Year caught him by surprise.
“I was pretty much shocked,” he said. “I always thought of winning the award and how cool it would be to win it, but I never thought it would happen because I go to such a small school and in a conference (the Cascade Conference) that people underestimate a lot and don’t take seriously.”
Bartley credited his teammates for the roles they played in his stellar season, and also noted how much he benefited from playing for his father, Archbishop Murphy coach Mike Bartley.
“My dad has always been my biggest mentor and coach and pretty much my role model,” Josh said. “I’ve looked up to him and he’s always been in love with soccer and that passed down to me.”
Being both a father and coach hasn’t been easy for Mike.
“It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” he said, “be a coach and a dad in a scenario where Josh is excelling and try to say something that didn’t sound like too much of a dad.”
At the prep level, Josh surpassed his dad’s career, but he’s not yet claimed the title of “Best in the Family.”
That honor goes to Josh’s mother, Joan Buratto, who had a storied high school career as a striker at Meadowdale.
“I think she might have been better than me,” Josh said.
Buratto scored a school single-season record 26 goals, Mike said. Added Josh with a laugh: “She may have mentioned that once or twice.”
Josh plans to attend the University of Washington in the fall and has spoken with coach Jamie Clark about walking on with the Huskies. Having a player-of-the-year award on his resume can’t hurt.
“We’re excited for him to get this award,” Mike Bartley said. “It puts him in the spotlight where maybe that will help springboard him into that opportunity to be able to go down there and do that.”
But Josh knows that competing against Division I scholarship players won’t be easy. He plans to spend the summer working on what he sees as his biggest weakness — and he doesn’t mean it ironically.
“My weakness is just my strength,” Josh said. “I think I need to bulk up a little bit, but then if I do that, I feel like I have all the skills I need. … It’s one of the things I’ve always dreamed about — to put on the purple and gold of UW would be amazing to me.”
In the fall, Mike Bartley will hope for the best for his son, while trying to find replacements for Josh and fellow senior captain Jalen Crisler (22 goals).
“They are best friends and I’ve always considered those two a big part of why we are where we are at,” Mike Bartley said. “I’ve been trying to figure that out since we got knocked out of the (state 2A) tournament. … it’s going to be incredibly hard.
“You don’t replace anybody like that. We’ll have to go forward and work as a team and do a lot better overall.”
And hope to find another magician with the ball like Josh Bartley.