2017 has been quite the year for Surry County soccer enthusiasts.
In the spring, the ladies of Elkin and East Surry High School’s reached the third and fourth rounds of the 1A state playoffs, respectively. For the boys, Surry Central reached the third round of the 2A state playoffs while Mount Airy reached the regional final to cap off a historic 23-win season.
Even going back a few years, a team from the Northwest 1A Athletic Conference has competed for a state championship in three of the past four years. Bishop McGuinness, the team that defeated the Mount Airy boys in this year’s West Regional Final, went on to capture the gold less than a month ago.
Soccer in Surry County has exploded in the past two decades due to a number of pioneers that helped make the game what it is today. The athlete with perhaps the greatest impact on the local soccer scene is Surry Central graduate Michael Richardson.
His achievements and contributions to the game and to local sports in general were recognized when Richardson was inducted into the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 last month. His high school, college, and national accomplishments in the sport were all cited in the decision to honor him.
The Golden Eagles formed a soccer program during Richardson’s time at the school. As a sophomore, Richardson scored 26 goals for the Eagles in their debut season.
The 2001 season saw Richardson make an impact nationally. The then-junior scored 87 goals that season, enough for the second-most goals in a single-season in all of the United States.
Richardson also set the state record for most goals in a single game with 10 his junior year. He reached the milestone on October 8, 2001, in a 17-0 victory over East Surry. Richardson held the record until 2003, when Matt Smith of Eastern Alamance scored 11 goals.
Richardson surpassed his season-high 87 goals in his senior season. By scoring 92 goals his senior year, Richardson set the record for goals in a single season. A record, by the way, that still stands to this day.
The 2002 season saw Richardson named the Northwest 1A Player of the Year in addition to receiving All-Conference, All-Region, and All-State honors.
The Golden Eagles won the conference championship that year and reached the state semifinals as well. Surry Central ranked 10th in North Carolina history with 160 goals in the 2002 season.
Richardson graduated in 2003 with 209 goals to his name. Richardson still holds the record for career goals in North Carolina and is third nationally.
Following a stellar high school career, Richardson continued his playing career at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Richardson received All-Southern Conference honors his senior year at UNCG, scoring five goals and nine assists in 24 starts with the team.
The Surry Central graduate finished his collegiate playing career with 11 goals and nine assists.
Not done yet, Richardson then made the leap to professional soccer by signing with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League in 2007. Richardson recorded one goal and six assists in two seasons with the team.
Having graduated with a degree in exercise and sports science with a minor in coaching, Richardson’s next move after his playing career was in education.
Richardson’s home from 2010-2015 was Chestnut Grove Middle School. He served as athletic director at the school from 2012-2015.
Richardson transitioned to the high school level in 2015 by becoming the athletic director at North Stokes High School, where he currently resides.
Richardson helped put Surry County sports on the map with stellar careers in high school, college, and professional soccer. Now, Richardson is helping the next generation of athletes.
Potentially, even, someone to break his records.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith