Brayden Gant was born to play soccer.
He has the lungs of a Gant. He has the heart of a Gant. And on the pitch, like every other soccer-playing Gant before him and likely after him, he can run forever.
And while his drive to succeed and accompanying work ethic has indeed got him to where he is today, there's no doubting the genes he was born into gave the second-year Trinity Western midfielder a darn good head start.
His uncles include Brian Gant - who played professional soccer for nine seasons in the North American Soccer League and also earned 15 caps [international appearances] with the Canadian national side - and Bruce Gant - who played professional soccer for five season, also in the NASL - and his cousin just so happens to be Canada's most recent Olympic hero. Yes, none other than the soccer-playing, goalscoring machine, podium-standing Christine Sinclair.
If you were looking for quality stock, that's as good as you might find anywhere in the country.
And like all three of Brian, Bruce and Christine, the 6'1" 165-pound Brayden, who hails from Maple Ridge, is a machine constructed specifically for soccer. And one that's been welloiled since he was four years old.
"They're all cut from the same cloth," said Spartans' coach Pat Rohla, who has known the Gant family since he was 20 years old. "Just change the heads and it's the same body. It doesn't matter if it's Christine or his uncles or anyone else in his family, they all seem to have the same physique."
So it's not surprising that in just his second year at the university level, Brayden is not only already one of the best midfielders in Canada West, but he's also been named Trinity Western's co-captain for this year - alongside fifth-year defender Brayden Volkenant - and, as Rohla puts it, "been given the keys to the car."
After an outstanding rookie campaign in which he was named a Canada West second team all-star and started all 13 games he played in, Gant, who has a figure that seems absent of any sort of fat cells, has been asked to take the next step in a quickly progressing development.
And for a player who has captained most of the teams he's played on throughout his career - including the Rohla-coached Langley Athletic F.C. of the Pacific Coast Soccer League this past summer - it was a natural fit.
"It's something I'm trying to take in stride," said Gant, who is majoring in human kinetics.
"It's a big responsibility but I think it's something I can grow into.
"It was something in the back of my mind that I've strived for, to lead Trinity, but it kind of came unexpected, but I'm very thankful for it."
For Rohla, he couldn't think of a better person to shoulder the load of transitioning from the old guard - one that saw nine players graduate last year and long-time captain Volkenant leaving at the end of this year - to a new phase of Spartans soccer.
While Gant might not be the most outspoken individual - which, perhaps, is not dissimilar to the nature of Sinclair - he's every bit the leader Rohla was looking for.
"He's has an excellent work ethic and he's very goal-oriented so he sets a standard for our team," Rohla said. "He's a quiet leader but he's an effective one and he gets it done on the field too. He's got a great heart. He likes his team. He connects well and bonds well with everyone on the squad. He's a players' captain and he's a good example."
And ever since Rohla announced Gant's co-captaincy, the Spartans have taken great strides in working to fill the voids left by the departed veterans. And not only have they plugged gaps, the Spartans have yet to lose a single game. In five preseason contests, Trinity Western went 4-0-1 and outscored the opposition 9-3.
"It's definitely a big change (this year) but throughout the preseason, we've grown together," said Gant, who comes with a winning pedigree that goes back as far as 2003, when he led the Vancouver Whitecaps U13 Prospects to a United Soccer Leagues Super Y-League North American championship title. "We're a tight-knit group and I think that's shown through our preseason success. We're playing for each other."
While it's only been a few weeks since Gant officially was named co-captain, it's quickly becoming apparent that he's well-versed in the role.
And just over a year since arriving at Trinity Western, it's become clear that not only was he born with the soccer-playing Gant bloodlines, but, like his bronze-medal winning cousin, he was born to lead.
Mark Janzen is from Trinity Western University