by Michael Smith
When talking about the history of the Grain Valley boys soccer program, it's hard not to bring up 2016 graduate Blake Desselle.
He was an all-state selection during the program’s first state final four appearance during his senior year in high school and was part of arguably the most talented trio to come through the program along with Alex Thiessen and Noah Espinosa.
It seemed like wherever Desselle went, winning followed. He went to Rockhurst for his first two years in college and got to take two trips to the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament as a reserve center midfielder.
After the success he’s had, he will go down as one of the best if not the best soccer player to come through the Grain Valley program, although there are a handful of players who have a legitimate argument for that honor.
That could be part of the reason why former Grain Valley girls and boys soccer coach Tyler Nichol asked Desselle to talk to the 2020 girls team before it made its trip to the St. Louis area for the state final four.
“I remember when we went to the final four, that was the first time Grain Valley went for either program,” Desselle said. “I was definitely honored for Coach Nichol to bring me in to talk to the girls, especially since that was his last year coaching.
“I played in a lot of big games in my life. One of my most memorable moments was going to the final four with Grain Valley, and that’s something a lot of kids don’t get to do. I just told them to have fun and it’s just another game. And I told them it was an experience they would never forget.”
After Rockhurst, Desselle transferred to William Jewell College to play three more years. Helped the Cardinals win the most games it ever had since moving from the National Association of Collegiate Athletics to NCAA Division II.
“I played a little bit during my sophomore year (at Rockhurst),” Desselle said. “Next year, I wasn’t sure what the deal was. I ended up transferring to Jewell and I ended up being a captain there and taking on a bigger role, which is cool. I had a blast there.
“When I got there, they were not very good,” Desselle said. “We turned the program around. We weren’t very good to be honest with you, but we were better than we had ever been since moving to Division II.”
Now Desselle has entered life after his storied soccer career.
Desselle graduated from William Jewell with bachelor degrees in physiological science and exercise science. He’s now a head sports performance coach at EXOS Physical Therapy and Sports Performance in Grain Valley, a position he started last May.
While there, he gets to go over exercises with athletes to help reduce the chance for future injuries and also assists with helping them get bigger, faster and stronger.
“I grew up training there when it used to be called Boost Physical Therapy and Sports Performance,” Desselle said, “and they got bought out two years ago by EXOS. Over the years, I worked there part time during college.
“As I went on and started to graduate. The head trainer for Independence and Grain Valley left, so they called me and wanted to hire me. I took the job.”
At EXOS, Grain Valley gets to see his friends as he gets to work with Grain Valley athletes.
“I worked with Cole Keller, who just graduated last year from Grain Valley,” Desselle said. “I work with Austin Schmidt who is the kicker for the football team and a great soccer player. He’s one of my best friend’s little brothers. Working with those guys is really cool.”
And he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I love what I do,” Desselle said. “I get to train high school and college athletes. I get to help them get to where they want to go.”
For anyone who would like to set up an appointment with Desselle at EXOS, you can contact him at (816) 719-5395.