This article was originally published in ZU News.
“I didn’t want to go here at first,” Kaleb Armbrust said while reflecting on his time at APU. “I was looking to do my own thing because my parents and my brother went here. I kind of wanted to go on my own path.”
Armbrust was looking at playing soccer at two other schools—a small school in Tennessee and Point Loma Nazarene University, one of APU’s main rivals. He is originally from San Diego, so Point Loma felt a bit like home and he already knew the coach.
However, as the time came closer to making a commitment for college, Armbrust decided on APU.
“I kept praying and praying about it,” Kaleb Armbrust said. “God closed that door [of Point Loma] and brought me here instead. I had a good relationship with the coach already, from my brother playing and me watching the games. Seeing how the team was, a close-knit family, I felt better and better about coming to APU.”
Armbrust’s brother, Keenan, was a sophomore on the men’s soccer team at the time.
“He was the first one that I called when I decided to come to APU,” Kaleb Armbrust said. “I got two years in high school and two years in college to play with him.”
Both brothers played offense and Kaleb had an immediate influence.
“Kaleb’s had a big impact, really from day one,” head coach David Blomquist said. “He was an important attacker for us, even as a freshman.”
Unfortunately, Kaleb got into a bad tackle and broke his right ankle in the first scrimmage of the season.
“I had been working really hard during training. I was pretty bummed out,” Kaleb Armbrust said.
Luckily for Kaleb and the team, the healing process went much faster than expected.
“Our trainer was really good. I actually got back in about five weeks,” Kaleb Armbrust said. “It was tough. You’re kind of timid coming back, especially with your ankles. That was a bummer having to sit out there every practice just watching.”
Armbrust had the option to take a redshirt, meaning he would sit his freshmen year out, but still be eligible to play for four years.
“Coach asked me if I wanted to redshirt, but I wanted to spend every bit of time with my brother that I could. So I told him no,” Kaleb Armbrust said. “My trainer said that I could get back soon. The team and my brother were really encouraging. I was trusting that God knew what he was doing and I was just excited to get back and play.”
Kaleb healed just soon enough to make the team’s annual trip to Hawaii. But one week before, his brother Keenan got injured too.
“I tore a ligament in my foot. I thought to myself, ‘This is it, I won’t get to play with him this year.’ It felt like God was trying to get our attention,” Keenan Armbrust said.
Keenan healed quickly too and came back before the end of the season.
“It was down to us having to beat Dominican at home to clench the conference title,” Keenan Armbrust said. “Kaleb ended up having two assists to my two goals and I had an assist to his goal for us to win. I remember him running to the corner and praying and it just felt like God was looking out for us all along.”
Once they were both healthy, the brothers turned the Cougars offense into a force to be reckoned with.
“It was great to have both of them on the field. Brothers sometimes have that sixth sense of what the other’s going to do,” Blomquist said. “They’re connection on the field was fantastic. Those were some special games.”
Blomquist said as good as they were on the field, their impact was even bigger off the field.
“They were APU through and through,” Blomquist said. “It was great to have two players playing significant roles on the field but also understanding how the program functions as a family off the field. They really got the big picture of what we’re doing for the men’s soccer program.”
Kaleb said that game was his favorite memory at APU, making history with Keenan.
“I just think it’s pretty insane that we got to play together through high school and college. God has blessed our journey together and I think our coaches would testify to that,” Keenan Armbrust said.
Since graduating, Keenan is now playing for the New Orleans Jesters in the National Premier Soccer League.
The past couple of seasons haven’t gone as well as his first one here, but Kaleb has still enjoyed his time at APU.
“We’ve had a couple rough years but it’s been fun, just being able to persevere with all the guys. Everyone encourages each other through all the pain and struggles,” Kaleb Armbrust said.
The men’s soccer team is still looking for their first win, they sit at 0-5 as of Sept. 22. They’ve already lost two games by one goal.
“It’s been a little tough, because we’ve been playing pretty well,” Kaleb Armbrust said. “We really feel like we’ve been controlling the games, but the results just aren’t going our way, so it’s kind of humbling and frustrating. We’re trusting that if we keep playing the way we can, it [the wins] will come eventually.”
Kaleb and Blomquist think the Cougars can still turn the season around.
However, Kaleb has other things to worry about. He will be graduating in May and will be getting married in July.
“Two of my best friends on the team, my roommates, will be my groomsmen. It’s really cool having guys that I can be so close to, that I can invite to my wedding,” Kaleb Armbrust said.
He and his fiancée are planning on moving back to Sacramento, where they went to high school together. He’s not sure what he wants to do yet.
“I love the outdoors, so hopefully something in that industry. We’ll see what God has planned for that,” Kaleb Armbrust said.
He shared one last thought on his time at APU.
“It was a blessing to play with my brother. I miss that, of course,” Kaleb Armbrust said. “But it’s also been really cool to play for myself and be a leader on the team.”