Six minutes is all it took for Aden Nyekan to completely shatter the postseason hopes of Russellville in the regional tournament.
In just six minutes, the sophomore scored four goals against the Panthers to end their season. It was a sequence that left the Russellville sideline completely silent and bystanders confused as to what exactly had just happened.
But for coach Joe Mercer and his Trojans, it was just an ordinary occurrence in the most statistically dominant individual season in Kentucky boys’ soccer.
“When he wants to, he can beat anybody,” Mercer said about his star player after that game. “He is just a physical specimen. He did a nice job putting away his chances tonight.”
Aden Nyekan did indeed finish his chances this season. The sophomore would go on to end the year with the most goals and total points scored in the entire state of Kentucky.
“I thought it was a good team effort because if it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn't be able to score,” Aden said of his impressive accolade. “We executed, and it just happened. I wasn’t really expecting to be No. 1 leading into the season. It was just something that went along with it.”
Soccer has always been a part of the Nyekan family. Aden’s father Bobby Nyekan played professionally overseas in Ghana, Tunisia and France among other countries during his career.
Then he came to Barren County where he coached the boys’ soccer team during Aden’s youth, and now Bobby Nyekan coaches the girls’ team.
“I did it for fun and it was a good living,” coach Nyekan said on his playing days. “But at the same time I’ve tried to be more of a mentor for him now to where if he wanted to play soccer, give it 100% and have fun doing it.”
Aden grew up playing with the older kids on his father’s soccer team, which enabled him to fall in love with the sport at a young age, and he never looked back. People would talk about his father’s playing days, but he saw things in a different light.
“I don’t really think I ever saw him as a professional. I just saw him as dad," Aden said. Everyone says that he was a professional player and stuff, but I just always saw him as dad.”
Believe it or not, Bobby says that he did not push his son into playing soccer as Aden did not have to follow in his footsteps. In fact, when Aden was young the doctors told his father that he would grow to be over six feet tall, which seemed to be a sign he would be a basketball player.
“For me, it was always about getting him to stay active from the get-go,” Coach Nyekan said. “He started out playing soccer, but there was the inclination that he would play basketball. So I thought that maybe he might appreciate feet-work first before he gets to basketball.”
“It was all about giving him his own space,” coach Nyekan continued. “I may give him pointers from what I see from the outside, but it’s about having fun and growing step-by-step. It becomes more about attention to detail and paying attention to the small things. It’s been fun working with him until kids get to that point where they say ‘Dad, I got this, I got this'."
That basketball inclination would prove to be true as Nyekan started for Barren County basketball as a freshman last season and was second on the team in points per game (14.3).
Luckily for him, Head Basketball Coach Warren Cunningham has backed up Aden and his soccer commitment.
“He is super-supportive,” Aden said. “He is big on multi-sport athletes and staying in condition. He is a big supporter of me playing soccer. You definitely get no time for rest. As soon as soccer season ends you bounce right back up into basketball season and prepare yourself for it.”
But the love for soccer still remains for him. Aden helped lead the Trojans this year to the second round of the soccer regional tournament for the first time since 2014.
“It’s a step in the right direction to improving year to year,” Aden said of the program’s success this season. “I just hope we keep improving and moving forward.”
“They had a good season,” coach Nyekan said. “Soccer is the consummate team sport. Everything that happens successfully individually comes from his teammates. It’s good to see that he can come out with an outcome like that (most goals in the state), and it’s good for them all to see it. It’s good for the entire team.”
Considering that fellow teammate senior Seth Mitchell led the state in total assists with 33, it’s easy to see why both Nyekans are so insistent that Aden’s accolade was a team effort. Also, Barren County’s offense was mostly utilized to put the talented sophomore in the best possible positions to score.
Despite the incredible individual success, Aden still sees room for improvement in his game, and that’s just how his father likes it.
“I can criticize you, and I can tell you what you are not doing well, but you need to be honest and tell yourself what you are not doing well,” coach Nyekan said to his son. “I don’t want to be too critical of him, and I want him to realize and be his own critic. He probably knows what he needs to do better.”
Almost immediately Aden responded: “I need to improve my technical skill, moving without the ball, and my ability to use my left foot effectively.”
Moving forward, the future does indeed look bright for the young sophomore. However, Aden Nyekan is not caught up ay looking ahead to any kind of athletic career after high school.
“I just go day-by-day and just keep improving then something will happen,” Aden said. “God will make a way and make a path for me.”
If he manages to keep up his astounding goal scoring for his final two seasons at Barren County High School, then that path will not be a very hard one to forge.