A different person from Charlotte Latin Athletics is featured on the first Tuesday of each month with twenty questions to help the CLS community get to know some of our athletes, coaches, and supporters a bit better.
This month, meet eighth grader Brayden Leach, who has had an excellent season as a goalie for the Middle School soccer team. With interests in sports, math, engineering, and the arts, Brayden is a well-rounded student-athlete who has big aspirations. Read on to get to know a bit about Brayden and find out who he says is his best role model in this month's Tuesday 20.
1. How long have you lived in Charlotte and gone to Latin?
I was born in Charlotte and have always lived here. I went to St. Matthew until I started at Latin in sixth grade.
2. Assuming you looked at other schools as well, what made you choose Charlotte Latin?
I came here for the Winter Showcase and fell in love with it. When we toured the school, I saw all the facilities for school and for sports, the teachers were really nice, and it just seemed like there was a good sense of community.
3. How was the transition your first year? Did you know anyone?
I knew Steele Fletcher and they paired me up with him when I toured. Then after I was here, I realized Thomas Greathouse was here too, and he also went to St. Matthew. We didn’t know that at first, though, because we were on the A-day, B-day schedule my first year, and he was on a different day. The every-other-day thing was challenging because you didn’t get to know the whole grade. With masks, it was hard to make a connection between a face and a name. But the kids were nice and kind and making friends was easy. The teachers were really good about showing me around school and introducing me to things here that I wasn’t used to at my other school.
4. Did you have a particular teacher that made an impression?
Mrs. Korkowski. She’s really nice and she teaches my favorite subject, and then during soccer games I can hear her on the sidelines cheering my name.
5. What is your favorite subject? And what’s the most challenging?
Math has always been my favorite subject. I like word problems. I like to challenge my brain. Not everyone is good at math so it’s cool to be able to do it well. I like engineering too, which I started this year, and they coordinate together. The most challenging is probably also math. There’s nothing I’m really bad at , but I like working out problems in math. Mrs. McConaughy tells us she’s going to throw us in the water and she won’t let us drown, but she’ll make us struggle. I like that the teachers all work with us and help us. They teach really well, so it’s easy to grasp most concepts, but they work with you when you need extra time.
6. How did you get into sports?
I’ve always loved sports. I think I started YMCA basketball and soccer around age three. I’ve done the YMCA, Yes I Can, the IFBL (InterFaith Basketball League), and now I play for the Dragons (AAU). I did flag football in third through sixth grades. My friend’s dad was coaching so he got me into it. My friend was the QB and I was the receiver. We had the best record and won the championship game for Calvary, but it was just for fun. I started playing club soccer at the beginning of last year with CSA (Charlotte Soccer Academy).
7. Did you choose to become a goalie, or did the position choose you?
When I was younger, the coaches would always just ask for volunteers to play in the goal and I volunteered. Then the coaches told me I was pretty good at it. I’ve found it really fun to play goalie. I’ve always liked diving on the ground and I’m good with my hands, so you get to do both of those in the sport and in that position.
8. The position also carries some responsibility for directing the team and being a leader. Does that also come naturally?
The leader instinct does come naturally, or at least the ability to bring positivity to the team. If someone makes a mistake, I try to lift them up and not let them get down about it. I always tell teammates when they’ve done a great job, or if they mess up, I try to give them good, positive feedback. Some players will stop trying if they get yelled at, so positive reinforcement works better.
9. Are there any particular games that stand out as memorable for you?
Both of our Country Day games were very satisfying. I made good saves and the whole team was saying nice things and even the parents from the other team were cheering for me.
10. You’ve also had a few setbacks. What can you tell us about those?
I’ve had a few concussions. The second one was bad. It happened at a (soccer) tournament when I got kicked in the head. I didn’t know I had it at the time and I finished the game, but afterwards my head was hurting and I could feel it. The recovery from that was hard. My balance was really off and I wasn’t allowed to play sports for a long time. It was tough to get everything back and get ready in time for school soccer.
11. Do you worry about getting injured again?
My family does. My grandma didn’t want me to keep playing sports, and my mom talks to me about refraining from certain things that are more risky. She tells me to think about my head before taking action. I try to be careful, but I don’t really think about it when I’m in the game.
12. You’ve played both soccer and basketball for a long time now. Do you have a favorite? What do you like most and least about each?
Basketball is my favorite. I like everything about basketball. In soccer, I love diving on the ground and blocking goals. The worst part of soccer is the stress before games. I worry about letting goals in. But once I start playing, it all goes away.
13. Next year, you’ll be in ninth grade. What makes you excited and/or anxious about moving on to Upper School?
The thing I’m looking forward to the most is high school sports. Both soccer and basketball. The thing I’m a little anxious about is the harder schoolwork.
14. Let’s finish up with some fun questions. If you could have one super power, what would it be?
I would like to have super speed and do everything super fast, including homework and chores, and to get across the goal box while defending the goal.
15. What’s your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas and Halloween are tied. Christmas, because it’s Jesus’s birthday and you get presents. Halloween, because it’s my birthday and I get presents. Also, I like the scary stuff.
16. When you were really little, what did you want to be when you grew up? And now?
An NBA player or other professional athlete. Then and now. For basketball or soccer. Or being a broadcaster and being on one of the sports shows. Or doing something like engineering.
17. What is something you’re good at that most people don’t know about?
I am really good at drawing. I like doing artwork.
18. Who is a sports figure you admire?
I admire Steph Curry for how he changed the game of basketball.
19. If you could have one real-life talent or ability that you don’t already have, what would it be?
Half court shooting ability.
20. Who is someone you admire who isn’t in sports, and why?
My mom. I admire her hard work and her kindness toward people and her resiliency. I want to try to mirror myself after her.