The coronavirus pandemic killed millions and changed the way billions of people lived and worked.
But it couldn’t stop former Bishop England soccer standout Joel Bunting from achieving his dream.
On May 21, the Charleston Battery signed Bunting to its 2021 roster. It is his first professional contract following a collegiate career at USC Upstate.
“If you asked me a year ago if I would play professional soccer, I would have thought you were crazy,” Bunting said. “But I’m very happy for the opportunity. Playing for the Battery has always been my dream. I grew up going to Battery games with my friends and family. I got to meet the players and they were an inspiration to me.”
Bunting, a 6-0 forward, has experienced success at every soccer stop. He graduated from Bishop England in 2016 after enjoying a stellar career that included being named all-state three times while receiving three Golden Boots awards.
He helped BE win a state championship his sophomore season by scoring 18 goals.
Bunting collected 27 goals and 10 assists in his junior season.
He also played club soccer for the Daniel Island Soccer Academy, tallying 26 goals and 24 assists from 2014-15.
At USC Upstate, Bunting played in 54 matches, including 47 as a starter.
Bunting scored eight goals and three assists for the Spartans, splitting time as a midfielder and forward.
“Playing at the college level made me realize you had to work hard to achieve your goals,” Bunting said. “At college, everyone was the best player for their high school, and you had players from Europe. I knew if I wanted to get to the next level, I would have to put
in the work. But I knew it would pay off in the end. I worked so hard to get to this point in my life.”
“College was a little different,” Bunting added. “The team didn’t have a lot of success. I just had to stay motivated and focused. When you win, it’s fun. When you lose, well, that’s not fun.”
Bunting played other sports as a youth including basketball and football. He said the thought of playing at the professional level never crossed his mind. But once he opted to focus solely on soccer, he started to develop as a player.
“The key was to take it one step at a time,” Bunting said. “I didn’t always know that I could reach my goal. But nothing beats hard work.”
Bunting said there are many people who have helped him along the way of his soccer journey. That included Ed Khouri, who coached him at BE and as a player for the Daniel Island Soccer Academy.
“I think coach Khouri knew I had a lot of potential,” Bunting said. “He was always trying to help me out. He helped arrange for me to get training with FC Dallas, but I wasn’t quite prepared. But it was a good experience.”
Bunting will make his home debut June 4 when the Battery hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy II at Patriots Point.