Kornell Hilliard has put up some crazy numbers for the Fern Creek boys’ soccer team this season.
Through 20 games the senior forward has scored an astounding 43 goals – including one in Wednesday evening’s 3-0 triumph over Bullitt East in the 24th District final – for the Tigers (15-4-1).
“He just erupted this year,” said Fern Creek coach John Pedro, whose team won its fourth straight district title Wednesday and will try for its fourth consecutive Sixth Region title next week. “We’ve had a lot of good teams in the past, and he wasn’t the star of those teams. He was just a piece of the puzzle. This year he’s really kind of emerged. He wants it, wants to score and wants to be the man. That’s what he wants to do.”
Q: When did you get started playing soccer?
A: I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old at the YMCA. I started following in my oldest brother’s footsteps. Later on I had my dad coach me, he coached all of his sons. I just fell in love with soccer right then.
Q: Why did you start playing?
A: My parents thought I liked to run around a lot, so they had to get me active and they signed me up for soccer. All they saw me do was run around the field, I kept running and running and scoring goals. My brothers influenced me (too). I just started learning the game more and kept playing it.
Q: Have you been surprised by your success this season?
A: I’ve just been preparing all these years (for this season). Senior year I told myself I was finally going to do it, I was going to become one of the top scorers and I was going to score as many goals as possible and I think I achieved that.
Q: What’s been your favorite goal you’ve scored so far this season?
A: My favorite goal was (against Atherton) when I got a ball in from the right side, it was over the top, I headed it, got it under control and then before it hit the ground I volleyed it with my left foot into the top corner of the goal. (After that) I was screaming, I didn’t even know I had that in me, it was my left foot, I could not believe it.
Q: Where are you going to college?
A: I’m leaning toward Northern Kentucky University and I’m still in talks with Dayton University.
Q: What do you want to study in college?
A: Mathematics. I want to become maybe an accountant, maybe a sports accountant.
Q: This program has been very successful over the past few seasons despite having players from all over (11 nationalities are represented), what’s the been the secret?
A: We’ve been really good, getting in new players as far as (mixing) different diversities. We are really a diverse team, we can barely communicate to each other, but soccer knows no language. We’ve been able to overcome not talking, having other people that speak English and translating that into their language and we’ve been building off that for several years. We’ve been pushing through and been winning districts and titles just cause we’re more than a team, we’re a family.
Q: How many different languages are spoken on the team?
Q: What are some of them?
A: Spanish, Nepali, Mai-Mai, I think we have Hindu (and) Bosnian.
Q: What’s the goal for next week?
A: Keeping our focus. We basically need to pass around and score goals. We need to know our opponents, work together, communicate and win region just like we did districts.
KORNELL HILLIARD UP CLOSE
School: Fern Creek.
Student-athlete: Kornell, whose favorite subjects are math and A.P. Calculus, has a 2.8 GPA. He is a four-year varsity player, and a three-year starter, on the soccer team.
Family: Kornell, 17, lives with his mom, Mary Bledsaw, and stepfather, Tim Bledsaw, as well as three of his brothers: Jonathan, 23; Albert, 7 and Julius, 5. Kornell’s father, Michael, and older brother, Nathan, 21, live in Bardstown.
Fern Creek coach John Pedro: Kornell has really come a long the past few years. He’s a big, physical presence on the field. His goal-scoring and finishing have gotten a lot better since he’s been playing club (soccer). I’ve been watching him for four years and I’m really glad I’m coaching him and I’m not coaching against him, that is for sure. And he’s also a great academic kid and a great kid overall. It’s been a pleasure coaching him the last four years, he’s come miles, that’s for sure.