Spotlight Saturdays: Branton Saunders
Last year, Branton Saunders was planning on attending Rollins College and playing soccer there, but after some setbacks, he joined Inter Orlando in August 2019.
Searching for a way to keep playing and improving in the sport he has been playing since he was 4 years old , Saunders said he heard that Head Coach Liam O'Brien, who had previously coached him during his time at Orlando City, had put together a team and attended one of Inter Orlando's Combines.
The Florida native said that soccer just came naturally for him, he said that even though he comes from a "basketball family," he discovered his passion for the game early on.
"I went out to the field and I just started training every day,"Saunders said. "It just kind of happened, I guess. I just started playing soccer instead of basketball.”
The center back said that the first month after he joined the team was surreal. He said that one of his favorite memories is getting to know his teammates and get used to playing with each other, he also enjoys celebrating the team's goals on different games. He also said that he feels like everything worked out organically.
“ I guess I never really needed a big motivating factor (for playing soccer)," Saunders said. "It’s just kind of what I like to do and luckily I’m good enough at it to the point where I can make something out of it.”
Now, a year later, Saunders' effort has been recognized with a scholarship at Rollins College, where he will be playing soccer next season.
He said that he wants to be an important part of what they're doing and showcase his talent while also getting his degree and keeping his grades up. Going pro and joining a team in Europe is one of his long term goals, he said.
"It’s a whole different world,"Saunders said about how he feels when playing. "If you have bad stuff going on at home, you step on the pitch and on your mind there’s only soccer."
The Manchester United fan said that the sport takes up a big part of his life, playing and watching soccer matches anytime he can but also going to the beach or golfing to distract himself.
As for any advice for anyone who may want to start playing, the recently signed player said:
"Don’t listen to anybody who says you can’t play at the level you want to play. If you have the gut and you want it bad enough, you’ll be able to do it no matter what."