Centre soccer’s Brunner has big post-grad plans

Published 5:01 am Thursday, October 5, 2023


Contributing writer

Centre College senior soccer captain Sam Brunner is a chemistry major who intends to pursue a master’s degree and is even considering going to medical school.

Email newsletter signup

However, Brunner is learning a new skill this semester. He’s taking a one-hour credit class where he’s learning to play the banjo. It’s not just any banjo, either.

“Players were joking at practice about it and Sam was talking about he needed to rent a banjo. I said I had one he could use and the team had a big laugh and someone said, ‘You play banjo Coach?’” Centre coach Jeb Burch said.

The coach posted a photo on X (formerly Twitter) of the two together with his banjo and noted Brunner was “babysitting one of my babies” this semester.

Brunner, a 2020 Danville High School graduate and soccer standout, needed two credit hours to round out his semester schedule. He opted for a one-hour meditation class and then chose a banjo class over a similar guitar class for his final hour.

“Everybody does guitar, so I thought I should do the banjo. I have never played any instrument but thought it would be fun,” Brunner said. “I was in Jeb’s office and he mentioned that he had some (musical) instruments. I told him what class I was taking and he said he had a banjo at home I could borrow. I think he dabbles a little bit with it but I had never heard him play.”

Brunner admits he was nervous he “would be bad” playing the banjo but says professor Randall Wilson is a “super cool guy” who has made the class fun.

“He’s very patient. I truly had never wanted to play an instrument before but I think after graduation I will buy a cheap one and keep playing. It’s such a calming thing,” he said.

Brunner has had the same type of influence on the soccer team, one reason teammates voted him a team captain this year.

“That is something I have wanted ever since I came to Centre. I think I have always shown the team I am all about the team and always willing to do what it takes to get the team on the right track,” Brunner said.

He had started 28 matches coming into this season and has started every match this year. He played 90 or more minutes in four matches in 2021 and in 2022 his 1,315 minutes were third most on the team.

“I try to stay humble and just credit my playing time to working hard. It’s not just all talent but it is also buying into what we needed as a team to win,” Brunner said. “I played those roles early on in my career of being that guy who has an engine and works hard in midfield and wins the ball. That gave me respect from my teammates.”

The Colonels went 2-4 in non-conference play but Brunner is excited about what lies ahead this season. He thinks the system Burch is using is a “better fit” for the team this season, especially with a smaller roster.

“A lot of people are getting a chance to play. We had some rough spots early but also a lot of positives to build on,” Brunner said. “We found out what we needed to fix for conference play and hopefully will be firing on all cylinders in conference play.

“Coach is a great guy. We all know he wants to win and has a long history of it. Every year is different but his goals and what he wants for this team never changes.”