When Nixa coach Evan Palmer looked to find a replacement for three-year starting goalkeeper Nick Reid, his search ultimately ended at his next-door neighbor's house.
Palmer never could have guessed as recently as two years ago that Logan Elmer, the aforementioned youngster next door, would emerge as his starting ‘keeper.
“I’ve known him since he was born,” Palmer said. “Years ago we had goals in our back yard and (Palmer’s son) Carson and Logan played together. But Logan just played in the back yard. He was never really into soccer. He was into football and basketball and he wrestles now, too. He never took soccer seriously until last year.”
Elmer was forced to look for another outlet in the summer and fall when he ended his football career after suffering two concussions a year ago. He also previously had another concussion.
“They took me out of football,” he said. “If I get another concussion, I’ll probably be out (of sports). We’ll see about that as times goes. I came to soccer. Now, I love the team and love the game.”
What a find and perfect fit Elmer has been for suddenly surging Nixa (10-4 overall and 4-2 in the COC). Elmer and the Eagles have posted three straight shutouts entering their trip to Springfield Catholic today.
Nixa has yielded just three goals during its seven-match winning streak.
Any fears the Eagles understandably could have had during the pre-season about starting a ‘keeper with one year of jayvee experience, has long since disappeared.
“He has a lot to learn and has learned a lot in a short time,” Palmer said. “He’s like a sponge. He has done a fantastic job. Teams have earned everything they’ve gotten against him. I’m happy for him. We’re really proud how far he’s come.
“Logan’s very athletic, so we knew he could probably do it,” Palmer added. “But getting out here and doing it on a varsity field is another matter.”
“I didn’t really have my feet when I first started. But now I’m doing better,” Elmer said. “It’s been exciting and a good learning process.”
Ellmer has dealt with the pressure that comes in between the sticks. He and the Eagles lost 3-2 in double overtime to Ozark last month. Of Nixa’s 14 matches, seven have been decided by one goal.
“I try to do my job and don’t let the stress get to me — it is what it is,” Elmer said. “Anytime I mess up, my teammates say it’s all right and tell me to move on. The team has been very supportive of me.”
If he had it all do over again, Elmer would change quite a bit. He wishes he would have given soccer a try at a younger age.
“I remember thinking about soccer when I was eight or nine years old and Carson would try to get me to play soccer,” Elmer said. “I stuck with football, but wish I would have tried soccer.”
Elmer especially likes his vantage point in front of the goal when he compares soccer to football and recalls some of the hits he absorbed on the gridiron.
“I can see everything that is coming to me in soccer, unlike football,” he said.