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Radcliffe family enjoys double soccer blessing
Younger brother now enjoying fruits of a major title

The Radcliffe soccer family, Tennessee high school’s soccer equivalent of the famed Manning quarterback clan?

Linda Radcliffe doesn’t claim her two soccer sons, Derick and Ryan, are on par talent-wise with Peyton and Eli Manning’s football prowess.

For Linda and their father, Rick Radcliffe, it’s just being proud to have two sons talented enough to bring home championship bacon.

Reflecting on Bearden’s latest Class AAA state soccer championship that youngest son Ryan, a two-time All-District 4-AAA forward/midfielder, helped produce, “I was walking [Monday], and thought about how incredible it was, and I thought, ‘I think I feel like Peyton Manning’s parents must feel, to have two sons be that successful,” said Linda Radcliffe, assistant coach under head coach Eric Turner during BHS’s three state titles the last six years.

“Of course, I don’t feel the same money-wise as Peyton Manning’s parents feel.”

Ryan, a 17-year-old junior, scored the game-winning overtime goal in Bearden’s 2-1 state semifinal win against Ridgeway, then put away a tension-packed overtime penalty kick conversion to help beat Hendersonville in the title showdown May 27 in Murfreesboro.

The other half, oldest son Derick, now a 21-year-old rising senior and starting center-midfielder for the University of Alabama, Birmingham, helped produce the first two SoccerDawg state crowns as an All-American and All-state midfielder.

Those efforts included a perfect 25-0-0 season in 2002 that also produced a consensus national championship.

After Derick finished the UAB school year in early May, big brother followed little brother and BHS every step of the way until the state title trophy was secured.

“They’re very close ... Derick even stayed in the room with the boys, and hung out with ’em all week,” Linda Radcliffe said about their Murfreesboro experience. “All he did for the rest of May was come to our practices and go to the games. I don’t think he missed a single practice.

“We had to keep him off the field sometimes, ’cause we didn’t want anybody to get hurt ... I subbed him in on the B-team during our scrimmages getting ready for state, but he was so aggressive we had to take him off,” she added. “He’s so competitive and so focused — he has no fear, he’s pretty fearless.

“We couldn’t keep him away.”

A center-midfielder throughout his UAB career, Derick Radcliffe was quick to point out road trip highlights in college.

“Playing at Indiana, playing at Notre Dame, getting to see the world. We got to go to England,” he said. “We’ve been to California, Rhode Island, we’ve been all over the place.”

As for Derick’s soccer future, “He’s talked to me about, maybe, the second part of his senior year — that’s the bad thing — there’s some [Major League Soccer] tryout he wants to participate in. ... That’s what his ambition is,” Linda Radcliffe said.

Living up to big brother’s success has been difficult for Ryan.

“It’s been so hard for Ryan because Derick was so blessed, there was so much talent on the teams that Derick was on for four years, a great deal of talent,” his mother said. “Derick was fortunate, so many excellent players.

“It’s kinda been a mixed blessing for Ryan, a lot of expectations to live up to, and I’ve always worried about that.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Radcliffe’s biggest family headache may not involve living up to Derick’s soccer success.

“He wrote a whole paper about the stress of having his mother as his coach,” Linda Radcliffe said with a good-natured laugh.

“That was kinda funny.”


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