by Bruce Strand, Sports Editor
First of all, what about that first name? Elk soccer standout Storm Heyer explains: “My parents named me ‘Storm’ because it means ‘power of God.’ They named my brother ‘Thunder’ because it means ‘force of God.’ We are a Christian family.”
OK, how about that mohawk? Heyer said that he’s made mission trips to Nicaragua the past two summers and persuaded his cohorts to get mohawks for a unified appearance.
“I am so used to it now, I don’t recognize it as being different,” he said.
That being settled, let’s focus on soccer, where Heyer lives up to his name as a force of nature on the pit, a third-year starter for Elk River-Zimmerman, known for bursts of speed, a fierce shot and steely dedication.
“Storm has always had an attitude, without being self-absorbed, that he can do anything,” Elk coach Aaron Lindquist said. “The drive he has, and willingness to ask questions and want to learn, are the most important things. And yes, he is fast!”
Heyer’s favorite Bible verse, not surprisingly, is: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Heyer has been a big-play guy for the Elks. Last year he made a free kick to beat Coon Rapids, assisted Joey Benz’s game-winner against No. 5 ranked Wayzata, and drilled an overtime breakaway goal to beat St. Michael-Albertville 1-0. His sophomore year, he tied a playoff game against St. Cloud Tech 5-5 with a header and the Elks won in overtime.
This year he’s already turned in three gems. Against Buffalo (3-0 win), he got the Elks on the board with a top-shelf shot off a feed from Thunder Heyer, then boomed one over the goalie from 25 yards out. At Brainerd (6-2 win), he lanced a 20-footer into the far top corner after sprinting past two defenders for a through ball. He also assisted on two goals.
The 5-foot-9, 152-pound Storm Heyer was one of a handful of quality players from Zimmerman who arrived in 2011 after the smallest District 728 school had to drop boys soccer due to low numbers. Becoming an Elk was fine with Heyer, who’s still a Thunder in track.
“To me, it was an opportunity to play on a better team against better competition. I knew all the Elk River guys from summer soccer. They play all year. At Zimmerman, a lot of guys just played in the fall,” he said.
Heyer was a defender his freshman year at Zimmerman High School but had notched 16 goals and 16 assists on junior varsity in eighth grade, so coaches knew he could score. He delivered six goals for the Elks as a sophomore and made all-conference. He had five in 11 games as a junior when he missed seven games with a stress fracture in his left middle toe.
Since Heyer joined the Elks, he and Lindquist have worked on evolving his game beyond relying upon speed. Last year, the quest was making shots dip or knuckle. This year it’s left-footed shooting and varying his moves after receiving a pass.
“His movements have improved so that he just doesn’t sit on the last defender and wait for a ball over his head to run onto,” Lindquist said.
Heyer, who intends to play college soccer, added: “I’ve been working at keeping the ball closer to my feet, too, and keeping my head up, so you now where people are.”
Heyer doesn’t have any other school activities but is active in his church, including those mission trips with siblings and friends. Said Lindquist: “Storm is one of the nicest persons I have ever met. I am lucky to have coached him.”
THE HEYER SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents Steve and Angie; sisters Cassie and Karissa; brother Thunder … Sports: soccer, track … Academics: 3.8 GPA through junior year
Favorite stuff — Classes: math, gym … TV show: “Duck Dynasty” … Reading: the Bible … Food: Chipotle fare … Drink: Gatorade … Team: Seattle Seahawks … Athletes: Ray Lewis, Lionel Messi … Music: Christian rap … Wants to visit: Nicaragua for another mission trip