Story courtesy of Amanda Hart, Dakota Wesleyan, NAIA Virtual Intern, Class of 2013
For the first time in Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) history, one of its student-athletes has been selected in the Major League Soccer (MLS) draft. Nate Polak, a senior from Hastings (Neb.), was recently selected by the New York Red Bulls in the fourth round of the MLS supplemental draft.
During his three-year tenure at Hastings, Polak had one of the most, if not the most, decorated career in school history. He was a two-time first team all-league selection, the 2011 GPAC Offensive Player of the Year, was twice voted the NAIA National Player of the Week, and went on to be selected as a First Team NAIA All-American in 2011.
After spending his freshman year at NCAA Division I Drake University (Iowa), Polak scored 43 goals and recorded 30 assists for the Broncos. As a junior, Nate helped the Broncos to an undefeated record and the NAIA National Championship. This season, Hastings was the National Runner-Up, finishing 24-2.
Hastings head coach and 2010 NAIA Coach of the Year Chris Kranjc describes Nate's contributions to the winning tradition at Hastings.
"Nate was a vital part of our success because of his work ethic, technical quality, and ability to play at top speeds. He also has a great ability to combine with other players in very creative ways. Nate competed and worked hard for the good of the team."
This isn't the first time a Polak has had the opportunity to go pro. In fact, it's becoming a sort of Polak family tradition. Nate's younger brother, Tyler, was selected in the second round of the MLS draft by the New England Revolution just a week earlier. His older brother, Aaron, also played for Hastings and was the 2006 GPAC Player of the Year and a two-time NAIA All-American.
It wasn't a huge surprise to anyone at Hastings when Nate was selected.
"We had a feeling he might get drafted since he had tried out with the Seattle Sounders twice last year and had several inquiries from different clubs," said Kranjc. "We were more surprised that the Red Bulls drafted him since they inquired very early in the fall and we heard nothing back from them. But, Nate is great player and he turned many heads with his performances the last two years which includes several MLS teams."