Before Brandon Jordi ever played a minute of varsity soccer at Charlotte Latin, he already was one of the best players in the country.
A member of the U14 National Team pool in eighth grade, Jordi attended camps and played in games with some of the best young soccer players in the country. Jordi also was a standout for his North Meck Soccer Academy team and was invited to the U15 National Team pool the following year.
Jordi lived up to the hype at Latin, earning a starting spot as a freshman and scoring 16 goals for a talented Hawk team that won 18 games and claimed the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state championship.
"I had a great freshman season at Latin, in club and for the national team," said Jordi, who earned all-conference and all-region honors that year. "I was on top of the soccer world at that point."
Never miss a local story.
Then, in January 2009, when the club soccer season was reaching full swing, Jordi tore the ACL on his right knee.
After surgery to repair the injury, the knee became infected, forcing the doctors to operate again.
"For the first couple days I was just in shock, really, just asking why this had happened to me, at this crucial time in my soccer career," said Jordi. "But then after a while it all settled in, and I knew I had to move on. I had to get the surgery and do the rehab and listen to what the doctors were telling me so I could get back on the field."
Jordi was ready when the next season came, in August.
While he was eager to return, simply playing again was a test of his physical and mental toughness.
"I was definitely scared. I didn't know how my body would respond," Jordi said.
Charlotte Latin coach Lee Horton never doubted him.
"It would have been easy for him to quit, or do it halfway," Horton said. "But Brandon never accepted anything less than the best from himself."
Little by little, Jordi returned to form and eventually was playing without thinking about his knee or his past.
Jordi helped lead Latin to a 21-win season his sophomore year, but the Hawks lost 3-1 to Greensboro Day in the state title game.
Last year, Jordi continued as a standout on a Latin team that went 17-3 before losing in the state semifinals.
After another great winter, spring and summer of club soccer, Jordi earned what he had been working for all along.
In August, he accepted a scholarship to the University of Richmond.
His decision made it easier for him to enjoy his senior year at Charlotte Latin.
The senior forward has netted 13 goals in his first 11 games this season. The Hawks (9-3-1, 3-0 in CISAA through Sept. 22), No. 3 in the state, are off to their usual strong start.
Jordi, a co-captain, has been the main offensive catalyst, scoring big goals in big games. Jordi scored two goals in a 4-2 upset of Charlotte Catholic.
But Jordi is not satisfied just yet.
"I want to finish as strong as I can at Latin and win a state championship," Jordi said. "But above all that, I just want to enjoy this year, and play my best soccer, and hopefully that means great things for our team."
After a roller coaster ride of ups and downs the last few seasons, no one has earned the right to enjoy himself more than Jordi.
"I think it would be hard not to cheer for Brandon, after all he has been through in the last four years," Horton said. "He has earned everything that has come to him. That is a lot to be proud of."