Story by Justin Toscano
Brophy Prep was locked in a scoreless tie with Desert Vista in the second half of the 6A state championship game and Broncos coach Paul Allen needed a spark off of his bench.
“Garlick!” he yelled.
Senior captain Ryan Garlick, who didn’t start because he had just been cleared from a concussion suffered weeks ago, got up and walked over to check into the game. He quickly stretched, then took the field.
“Garlick! Garlick! Garlick” Brophy’s student section chanted.
It’s a familiar name around Brophy. One the school has seen and heard for over three decades, on and off the soccer field.
First there was Mike Garlick, Ryan’s father, who played two seasons of varsity soccer and graduated in 1989.
Then came Scott Garlick, Ryan’s uncle who graduated a year after Mike. Scott played four years of varsity soccer, winning a co-state championship his senior season.
After a year off from Garlicks, Brophy got another when Matt set foot on campus. He graduated in 1994.
And finally, Tim, who graduated in 1997.
So, when Ryan started at Brophy as a freshman, he was continuing a legacy that had been dormant for almost two decades. Folks new the name.
“Oh, you’re a Garlick?” they would ask.
“Is that a good or bad thing?” Ryan would think to himself, though he said most times the name came with a positive connotation.
A LEGACY IS BORN
The Garlick boys grew up going to public school. They had never heard of Brophy Prep, an all-boys Catholic school.
As Scott says, their parents “forced” them to go there. Not only did they receive a top-notch education, but they also gained perspective.
“Men for Others” is the school’s motto. Students there learn more than just math, science or English.
“They taught you about how to treat people, they taught you how to respect your peers,” Mike said. “They taught you that regardless of where you were from, what you were, who you were and really tried to balance it out so you had that understanding going forward in life. It’s a special place.”
Added Scott on the Brophy experience: “The neat thing about it is, if you look back at our lives, it’s one of the things that’s really transformed all of our lives in a very positive way, and the soccer piece is a part of that.”
So, about that soccer legacy. As a young child, Mike always wanted to play tackle football. It was gaining popularity and some of his friends were involved.
But his father wouldn’t allow it. Instead, the elder Garlick told his boys that they’d be a soccer family. The other kind of football.
Mind you, this was in the 1970s. Not many people in Arizona knew about soccer, and Mike’s father surely didn’t. It came out of nowhere.
Though Mike started playing soccer and loved it, he didn’t make the Brophy team his first two years in high school. The worst part for him? Scott made it as a freshman, the same year Mike tried out as a sophomore and was denied.
”It was a very humbling experience for me to have at a school like that where I didn’t make the team and my younger brother did, and he kind of became the star,” said Mike, who made the team his final two years of high school.
Looking back, it may not seem so embarrassing. Brophy soccer was a launch pad for Scott, who played college soccer at the University of San Diego, where his team lost in the national championship in 1992, then was eliminated in the Round of 16 each of the next two seasons.
Following his collegiate career, Scott played professionally for 11 years. He began in Ireland, then moved back to the United States and joined the MLS, eventually winning an MLS Cup with D.C. United.
Mike made the team as a junior, however, and he and Scott played on the same squad for two seasons. They played under then-coach Paul Micheletti, who tragically died in a car accident in 1991. John Kelly, a Brophy and Stanford alum and then a law student, also came back and helped out.
Years later, Matt and Tim played on the same team. Tim was a freshman, Matt a senior.
“I am and always have been very close with Tim, and have always been very proud of him on and off the field,” said Matt, who now lives in Argentina, via email. “We were inseparable back then, and he is close with all my best friends and vice versa. It was a special time for sure.”
Matt went on to play at Creighton University and Boston University. Tim played at the University of San Francisco, then for the North Carolina Dynamo, effectively a minor league time of that time.
Before they went their separate ways, the Garlicks helped Brophy begin to make a name for itself on the soccer field.
“I think we did well for our era and the time of soccer then, but it’s gotten so much bigger now,” Scott said.
When Mike and his brothers played, there were a few guys who played club soccer. The rest didn’t. Now, all the Brophy players are involved in competitive soccer outside of the high school season.
And they wouldn’t have even thought about leaving the state, which Brophy did this season when it traveled to Dallas. Or about being ranked (this year’s Broncos were ranked No. 1 in the country before a 3-0 loss to Desert Vista in the 6A state title game).
“They’ve really kind of taken Brophy soccer and put it on steroids, which is so exciting,” Scott said.
Mike, Scott, Matt and Tim all have their respective memories from their time with Brophy soccer. Those could fill a book.
One they all seem to hold close is that of the alumni game, which marked the only time the Garlick boys all shared the field together.
Odd graduation years versus even graduation years. Mike and Tim on one side, Scott and Matt on the other.
“It was fun,” Mike said. “It was probably more painful for me than them because they were either playing college soccer or were just more fit than me at the time. It was a great day.”
“It wasn’t really competitive, but that kind of moment was pretty unique,” Tim said. “Something you don’t get to experience a ton.”
“Competitive,” Matt said. “We all like to compete, and none of us like to lose, especially to a sibling.”
A LEGACY CONTINUED
Mike said he never forced his son to attend Brophy, but Ryan instead elected to do so. For the first time in almost 20 years, Brophy had a Garlick.
“I’ve definitely heard stories from (my dad and uncles about Brophy) from the time I was a young boy,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s Brophy experience is almost complete and he has plenty of his own stories to tell. He made the varsity soccer team as a freshman, one of just a few kids to accomplish that. He has been part of the program’s success since then.
This season, his team was ranked No. 1 in the country before losing to Desert Vista in the state championship game. The Broncos went undefeated before that. They’d won games not only in Arizona, but also in Texas. And had they beaten Desert Vista, they would have been crowned “national champions” by finishing the season as the top-ranked team in the nation.
They helped put Arizona high school soccer on the map, and Ryan was a team captain.
“I think the coaching staff has been unreal for the last four years,” Ryan said. “Through the highs and the lows, they’ve always been great and I’ll never forget that. The coaching staff and the boys I’ve played with have made it worth it every second.”
Ryan grew up in soccer because of his father. For the 2006 World Cup, Mike took a few of his friends to Germany, and needless to say, they’re now rabid fans of the sport.
During the weekends, Ryan and Mike often wake up early to watch English Premier League soccer. Ryan in his Manchester United kit, Mike in his Liverpool one. That probably won’t ever change.
But the family knew the state championship game would be an emotional day, regardless of the result, because it marked Ryan’s final organized soccer game. He doesn’t want to play in college and will instead study film, a decision he made his sophomore year because he didn’t want to play in college.
“All good things must come to an end, right?” Mike said. “It’s been a tremendous run.”
Unfortunately for Ryan, Brophy lost his swan song. In the game’s final moments, Ryan stood there with a hand on his hip and his jersey near his face. The emotions were already starting to flow.
After the final whistle, he led his team through the postgame handshake line, just as a senior captain would.
“It was all kind of just like flashing back,” he said when asked what he felt in that moment.
The years playing club. The four seasons at Brophy. All of the accomplishments.
Now it’s time for film school. Ryan has applied to schools like USC, Loyola Marymount, New York University, Boston University and Chapman University and will hear back from them in March or April.
“It was a tough decision not to play in college, but it’s time for me to move on to the next point of my life,” Ryan said.
IS THIS THE END OF THE LEGACY?
Only time will tell. But for now, yes.
Scott lives in Tampa Bay, Florida, so chances are his boys won’t go to Brophy. Their kids could, though.
Matt has girls, so that’s out of the equation unless they move back to the United States, have boys and send them to Brophy.
Ryan is Mike’s only boy, so that’s done until he has his own kids.
Tim has an infant girl. Unless he eventually has a boy, the legacy will be dormant again.
“You never close the door, right?” Mike said.
Not unless you have to.
When Ryan left the field for the final time in his soccer career, the curtains also closed on a legacy, at least until the next Garlick boy takes the field for Brophy.