Favorite athlete: Tim Howard, Former USMNT goalkeeper
Favorite team: Philadelphia 76ers
Favorite memory competing in sports: Watching Stef write my name on the whiteboard, signifying that I would get the start on my Senior Night and all my teammates screaming when he did. Moreover, I played very well on my Senior Night, posting a shutout with a pair of good saves. Also, at the end of the night, Stef allowed me to borrow a field player’s jersey and play a couple minutes at striker. By far my favorite memory from sports.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: At an indoor tournament in the semifinal, the opposing striker ripped a shot and the keeper went down to make a save. However, the ball goes through his hands, then his legs, and into the back of the net, with one minute remaining. This was the game-winning goal, and a huge blunder on the keeper’s part.
Music on mobile device: Mostly rap with artists like Eminem, Meek Mill, Travis Scott, and more. However, I am open to all music as I love listening to new genres and my friends’ favorite artists.
Future plans: Attend college and play soccer in college. Whether it be intramural, club, or varsity, I love paying soccer and want to continue playing it in my college years.
Words to live by: “Embrace the role you’re in.”
One goal before turning 30: I hope by the time I’m 30 I will have found a career I am passionate about.
One thing people don’t know about me: I did not start playing club soccer until I was 13 years old.
By Mary Jane Souder
It was a moment that went unnoticed by everyone. Everyone except the two people involved.
On the Central Bucks West sidelines in a rapidly emptying HersheyPark Stadium, Kirk Ransome sought out his coach. The Bucks’ storybook postseason had just come to an end in a 2-0 loss to a favored North Penn squad in the PIAA 4A state title game.
“Obviously, you lose the state final, there’s emotion going around, disappointment and dismay,” West coach Stefan Szygiel said. “Kirk comes up to me and sticks out his hand, kind of gives me a hug and says, ‘Stef, thanks for giving me a shot. These have been the best four years of my life.’”
Ransome wasn’t a headliner. As a matter of fact, the West senior saw very few meaningful minutes as a back-up goalie to senior standout Ryan Van Pelt, a reality he was well aware of before his final high school season began. Ransome, however, understood and appreciated exactly how significant it was that he had been given the opportunity to be part of the West program, an opportunity he has never taken for granted since the moment he found out he made the team as a freshman.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Ransome said. “All I knew is that my friends were trying out for the West team because there wasn’t any other Lenape team in ninth grade. It was just the high school level, so we were all going to try out.
“Stef told Ryan (Van Pelt) he made the team, and he dismissed him. He kept me, and he told me, ‘I cut two juniors for you. I’m giving you an opportunity to be on the team. I hope you’re worth it.’ I just always remembered that because first of all, I was only a ninth grader, and I wasn’t familiar with the coaches like the other players were, so it kind of scared me into my place. I’m not even sure if he’ll remember telling me that – I still remember sitting there. I just couldn’t be happier that he made that choice and put me on the team.”
It’s a decision Szygiel certainly hasn’t regretted.
“I think it’s a great example of an unsung hero type of situation,” the West coach said of Ransome. “It goes back to one word – buy-in. Here you have a guy who is a senior and knows there’s another senior in front of him who’s going to get the nod as the starting guy. You don’t hear a peep out of him. He continues to show up day in day out to help the program.
“How does he do that? He raises the level of training, he helps prepare Van Pelt for game day, all things you’re never going to hear about. We have a lot of guys like that. This situation with Kirk is four years biding his time and knowing as a senior that Ryan Van Pelt was still going to be the guy. It didn’t affect his psyche at all. He came in this year – honestly, this boy could start for a lot of teams in the district.
“What I admire about Kirk is – that’s the type of situation where you could just say ‘I’m the senior, I’m the backup. We have another junior in the pipeline who’s very good. I don’t even have a shot, so I’m going to kind of rest on my laurels and just show up and hang out.’ He did the opposite. He improved in the offseason to the point where we’re looking at him and saying, ‘I hope we can find some games for Kirk this year.’”
Ransome combined with Luke Shank to post a shutout in his lone start of the season on Senior Night against Quakertown, and whether on the field or on the sidelines, the senior keeper enjoyed every minute of his final high school season that saw the Bucks – seeded 23rd in the 24-team District One 4A field – earn a state berth and advance to the state title game.
“It meant the world to be on a team that was able to go as far as the state final,” Ransome said. “Because we were the 23rd seed, no one really thought we would go that far.
“Just to be on a team that always rallied around each other and just continued to find a way to win – it was an incredible experience, especially my senior year, the last season of my career. It couldn’t have ended better, and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates around me.”
Ransome and identical twin brother Kipp began playing soccer at a young age. Kirk was a goalkeeper from the outset.
“I think it’s one of the funnest positions on the field,” he said. “I sometimes do go on the field just for fun, but I just love being in goal.”
Ransome never really played competitively until he made the Lenape Middle School team.
“Me and my brother both tried out for that team, but I was the only one that made it because he tried out for striker and I tried out for goalie – not many people tried out for goalie, so I ended up making the team,” he said. “After I made the team, a bunch of my teammates who played club at the time told me to try out for Buckingham United, so I ended up trying out for that club. I made their C team. Throughout my years with Buckingham, I got promoted to the B team for two years and then I was on the A team.”
The club – short on players – disbanded, and Ransome’s soccer was confined to workouts for his school team.
As a freshman, Ransome saw limited minutes on the jayvee team, but as a sophomore, he split time with Van Pelt and was named a captain of the jayvee team.
“Even though we knew it wasn’t as important a role as varsity, it was still a lot of fun to be on the jayvee team,” Ransome said.
As a junior, Ransome assumed he would be back on the jayvee.
“I think that was the year Stefan decided he wasn’t going to put juniors on jayvee,” he said. “So at that point, there were still a lot of keepers in front of me – we still had Dylan Smith, Brendan Gibbons and Ryan Van Pelt, and we had an underclassman, Luke Shank, who was also very good.
“I just assumed that I’d still be on jayvee or I might be cut, so that preseason I was kind of worried, but every year going back to preseason, the coaches kept telling me I’ve gotten better and I’ve progressed as a player. Junior year they told me I surprised them and they promoted me to full varsity. Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to play varsity minutes because we still had Dylan Smith, I was thrilled because I had no idea I would make varsity.”
As a senior, Ransome knew he once again would be taking a backseat to Van Pelt.
“I knew he deserved the opportunity to be the starter,” Ransome said. “I’ve been friends with him since Lenape. I had never played club at that point and he had, so he would always give me pointers, and I was thankful for that.
“Even now, when we went to practice at West, he would give me pointers. I would always support him, and he would always support me. It’s just been that kind of relationship for five years, so I was very happy for him when he became the starter. Even though I didn’t get to play, I was still on varsity.
“I didn’t get many minutes, but I was just happy to be on the team and be around him and just be around the community at West. It’s just been a really fun time playing for West and just having that opportunity. I was able to play on my Senior Night and a couple of other games and that last few minutes of the state final I was able to go in, which was a pretty cool experience. This overall time of being at West I was just really thankful for.”
Ransome plans to continue playing soccer for as long as he can whether it be for a collegiate team or at the intramural or club level.
“I love playing soccer – it’s just been a lot of fun,” he said.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he will be reunited with his twin brother Kipp on the soccer field.
“He still plays soccer – just not for West,” Ransome said. “If I end up playing for the same college or university that he does, I think it would be a blast to go out for an intramural or club team and play soccer with him.
“We were on the same club team for a while, and playing soccer with him has been a lot of fun. I feel like playing club or any kind of soccer in college is going to be really fun. It’s been so much fun just the journey to play soccer at West. I think that’s inspired me to want to play in college.”
Ransome is looking at Villanova, St. Joseph’s and Lafayette for academics. He is also applying to smaller schools like Gettysburg and Ursinus. He is considering a business/finance major and may incorporate mathematics as well.
An excellent student, Ransome is a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and the World Affairs Club at West. He has worked at the YMCA summer camps and is working with the Club After 2 program, an after-school program at the YMCA for individuals with mental and physical disabilities.
“I’m really involved with the Y,” Ransome said. “I’ve coached soccer to four and five-year-olds and also coached basketball, t-ball and little league through the YMCA.”
When it comes to personal highlights, West soccer is at the top of the list for the senior goalkeeper.
“Kirk was thankful just to be given the opportunity as a young freshman coming in,” Szygiel said. “He played jayvee for two years, he was in our goalkeeper pipeline last year as a junior but was probably third or even fourth string, and to come in this year with all the things that (happened) and for the season to end - for a guy like him to come up to me and say (thanks, they were the best four years of his life) and give me a hug is just fantastic. He’s the consummate West kid, totally bought in.”
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