Soccer isn’t just a sport to Brentwood graduate Heran Pradhan.
It’s a way of life.
“I have been playing soccer for as long as I know,” Pradhan said. “We used to play soccer almost every day after school with our friends in Nepal.”
Pradhan was a standout performer during his four-year career with the Spartans.
He was all-section selection as a junior and senior and added an all-WPIAL honor as a senior. He also was lauded as the “most outstanding team member” this year.
“I am honored for being selected,” Pradhan said. “But soccer is a team sport and one cannot do it all.”
Pradhan, 18, wrapped up his high school career as the second-leading scorer in team history with 97 career points (41 goals, 56 assists).
“Heran was a key player for our team for four years,” Brentwood coach Ron DiNardo said. “He was a varsity starter all four years. His first two years, he was our left winger. His last two years, he was our center midfielder. He was truly our most versatile player.”
Pradhan grew up in Jhapa, Nepal, before moving with his family to Brentwood in 2014. He traveled with his mother, uncle, older brother and younger sister.
Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia, mainly situated in the Himalayas. It has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills and eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains including Mount Everest, the earth’s highest point.
Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural state, with Nepali as the official language. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and the largest city.
“Growing up was fun in Nepal. I have never visited Mount Everest; I will probably go in the future,” Pradhan said. “I used to play little cricket but it was mostly soccer. We lived in a refugee camp which had a jungle and river nearby. Me and many other friends had a passion for soccer. We used to play soccer every day in a nearby field which was inside the jungle, and after we played we used to go swim in a nearby river to cool down, although most of us didn’t know how to swim.
“As I grew up, I began to understand that our joy came at a cost (via) hardships for our parents and family. We had no real opportunities. They had to work hard labor just to make sure we’d survive.”
Pradhan said he and his friends also played hide-and-seek in the jungle, went fishing and dabbled in chess.
“Our school was very different in Nepal than in the United States,” he said. “We didn’t get to pick our subjects and there were no study halls, gym classes or clubs (for soccer, cricket, etc.). There were three exams you needed to pass. If you get below 40% in more than three subjects, you would get held back.”
Over the past three seasons, Brentwood compiled a 35-12-4 record on the pitch, and finished as section runner-up three times.
“My soccer career was great at Brentwood,” Pradhan said. “With the help of our coaches, trainer(s), parents and club members, we achieved numerous things like making it to the second round of the playoffs three times in a row, and defeating a team we’d never defeated for the first time.
“They taught us not only the skills and techniques of soccer but also (provided) us with unyielding truth and useful lessons on life. I am very thankful for being a member of the soccer club.”
The Spartans advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals the past three years. One of the team’s playoff highlights was a 4-2 win against Serra Catholic in the WPIAL first round in 2018.
“Some of my greatest memories are the bus rides home after we won,” Pradhan said, “especially after we won our first-round playoff game in my sophomore year. That was something else.”
DiNardo said it is Pradhan’s innate athletic skills that sets him apart from others on the pitch.
“Heran is a very good dribbler and a creative passer,” the veteran coach said. “He is small in stature but he’s pretty physical for his size. And he’s able to shoot well with both feet.
“He converted very well from a forward to a midfielder for us. He prefers playing forward; I preferred him at midfield.”
In the offseason, Pradhan participates on a travel soccer team called the Brentwood Bulldogs, along with a newly formed Nepalese soccer team, 3 Rivers Brentwood.
Other Brentwood soccer players on the Nepalese team include Suren Poudyel from the class of 2019, seniors Prason Gurung, Pagang Gurung and Samir Kadariya, along with junior Sangay Gurung. The team recently participated in the Pittsburgh Challenge Cup held at Brentwood Stadium, and in a two-day tournament in Erie.
Pradhan also competed in his high school’s track and field program, specializing in the sprints and jumping events. And he played various positions in soccer.
“I played left wing, right wing, striker and center midfielder,” he said. “My favorite position to play is left wing, and the most challenging was center midfielder.”
Pradhan plans to attend Duquesne and major in health science this fall, and hopes to secure a spot on the men’s soccer team. Medical school also is in his future.