When soccer standout Grayson Doody of Los Angeles Loyola committed to UCLA, it was almost as if the family house was rocked by a 8.0 earthquake.
Mom and dad went to USC. Older sister attends USC. Younger sister likes USC.
“It’s a sticky situation,” Doody said. “I’m definitely the odd one out in the family. I get hate from my sister every day. I’m still working on her. It’s a divided house, but we’re getting there.”
Since Chris Walter took over as Loyola’s soccer coach in 2000, he’s had plenty of standout players while winning five Southern Section championships. None ended up playing for UCLA until now.
“He’s definitely one of the most talented, if not the most talented player, we’ve had,” Walter said. “What makes him special is he’s one of the hardest working players offensively and defensively. He’s got speed, determination and heart, and the technical skills with the ball.”
At 5 feet 10 and 155 pounds, Doody grew up surfing in Hermosa Beach. Doody and his friends would spend almost every Saturday testing the best waves. Soccer, though, would become an even bigger passion than surfing.
He earned a spot on the L.A. Galaxy Academy team as a freshman before deciding he wanted to experience high school soccer at Loyola. Giving up surfing and the Academy league were two of his best decisions, he said.
“As a kid, I was stuck on surfing, but I fell completely in love with soccer,” he said. “Soccer is kind of my everything. Once school is over, all I think about is soccer. Just like surfing, soccer is a skill you have to adapt to and learn. I was patient with it. I put in the work, just like surfing. Eventually it clicked.”
Doody’s exceptional soccer skills and sudden burst of speed were seen during a game against Torrey Pines. The ball was headed out of bounds near the goal. Most players would have given up on the ball. Not Doody.
“It was rolling out of bounds, and he sprinted over, saved it and crossed it back across the box to one of our forwards to head it in,” Walter said.
Said Doody: “I was like, ‘This is a chance I’m going to take.’ I didn’t want to think about what would have happened if I let the ball go out of bounds. I’m reluctant. I don’t give up. I hate losing, so I’m going to do anything I can to help our team win.”
As for choosing to play high school soccer, Doody said, “I went to a couple of games and realized playing for your high school meant more than playing for some pro team. After three years on varsity, I understand what it means to be playing for more than yourself — being part of something is way bigger than yourself.”
There’s so much to like about Doody, from his soccer skills to his leadership skills — he was elected captain by unanimous team vote. Now he’s involved in his three-week senior community service project in which he’s working with students in kindergarten at a local school.
Although his patience is being tested, he’s learning about building relationships.
“I already know the kids love playing kickball,” he said. “You can tell they have some respect in their eyes when they look up to you. You say something, they listen. It’s cool.”
Now he just has to keep the peace at home. There’s a Christmas card with Doody dressed in Bruin blue and the other four family members in Trojan red pulling away in a simulated tug-a-rope with the headline, “Happy Holidays from this DIVIDED HOUSE.”
“My mom and dad are giving in more and more,” he said. “I used to be all red. Then I made the switch to the better side.”