BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) - In this Senior Spotlight, FOX 12 highlights a Southridge High School goalie who hopes to be the future keeper for the Timbers after signing with Portland in November.
"I have become more independent because I am used to being on my own."
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, senior Hunter Sulte has called "Soccer City" home since he was 13.
"It’s going to be nice to see people recognize you on the street and I am just excited for that. Love the energy of this city," Sulte said.
Sulte joining the Timbers Academy five years ago after moving in with his aunt in Beaverton.
"What really helped me was playing with older kids to get me out of my comfort zone to know I have to play faster," he said.
The 6-foot-7, 18-year-old saw his path to turn pro.
"When I started seeing more time on T2, you kind of start to see the route. ‘Wow, these guys are insane,’" Sulte said.
Sulte played in eight games with T2 until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and there won't be a Timbers second team season back in Hillsboro until 2022.
"I live three minutes from the facility so it’s the same thing every day, just there and back and that’s about it," he said.
The Timbers Training Facility has been Sulte's outlet in this year of nothingness.
"There are definitely times I wanted to quit, times when I said, ‘I hate this, I wish I was back in Alaska,' but I just kept pushing through," he said. "I knew it would get better the more I trained."
Sulte had committed to Georgetown, the defending NCAA Division champs from 2019, before inking a Homegrown Player deal with the green and gold to become just the second player to ever sign from Alaska in MLS history.
"It was definitely a lot of stress off my back because we were always worried, because Georgetown is a great school, so we were worried how hard it would be, how I would do in school with not a lot of time because I have always struggled when I am constantly playing soccer and I’ve had school," said Sulte. "I’ve had trouble balancing my time out, but it relieves a lot of stress because I know what is happening."
A PTFC star in the making is like a sponge around the Timbers veteran goalies, Steve Clark and Jeff Attinella.
"It’s strange, because you have all of these guys who have their career. They are all over 20 years old and then it’s just me, the youngest guy there," Sulte said. "Trying to get stuck in and take as much advice as I can from them but it’s just weird to me that they already had a career, they are closing it out and mine is just starting."
The keeper is a leader as Senior Class President at Southridge High School.
"I loved leading cheers in football, basketball games, I just miss all of the extra activities you can do. I miss seeing teachers faces. I just miss the normal life I used to have at school," he said. "Alaska is huge with cheers, so I like to bring that energy over."
What has been a life lesson that Sulte has learned over the past 10-plus months?
"Just picture what is on the other side of this and keep working towards that to get to normal life and we’ll be happy again," he said.