From considering giving up the game for good two years ago to earning his first professional contract last winter, Kyle Carr has had an interesting road back to Lansing. | Photo courtesy Jessica Stone Hendricks / Richmond Kickers
LANSING, Mich. – Two years ago, there was a question as to whether Kyle Carr’s competitive soccer career had come to an end.
After completing his collegiate career at Liberty University, the central midfielder was in the middle of a year off from the sport which saw him turn down the chance to join Lansing United and then-Head Coach Kyle Miller to train and compete over that summer.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to play ever again,” Carr told the Lansing State Journal’s Phil Friend.
But Miller persisted, unsurprisingly given the relationship between the player and coach that goes all the way back to Carr’s days as a high school recruit, and last year Carr returned to the field in Lansing in USL League Two.
It’s been onward and upward ever since for the 24-year-old, who is now in his first professional season with USL League One’s Lansing Ignite FC. After helping lead United to the League Two Playoffs a season ago with two assists in 12 appearances and 849 minutes of action, Carr was invited to train with the USL Championship’s Indy Eleven over the remaining three months of the Eleven’s season.
The opportunity didn’t result in a contract for Carr with the Championship club, but it offered a pathway to reunite once again with Miller this offseason as he was putting together Ignite FC’s squad for its inaugural season in League One.
“They fed me, let me train, which really helped me with my game,” Carr told Friend of his time with Indy. “That helped me so much. The more you can play around high-level players, the better you’re going to get. I learned what it was like to be a professional, to live it every day, come in willing to work every day.
"That was eye-opening for me. [They are] things I’m still working on, but lessons I’ll take forever.”
If there’s an irony to Carr and Miller’s relationship, it’s that it took until they united in Lansing for the two to be on the same side. While Miller recruited Carr to Taylor University – meeting first at the Disney Showcase in December 2012 – by the time Carr arrived on campus, Miller had departed for the Head Coaching position at Spring Arbor.
Despite that, the two remained in regular contact, which paid off handsomely down the road as the infectious nature Miller brings to the sport helped carry Carr back to the game a season ago.
“I just love how passionate he is about the game,” Carr told Friend. “He’s going to give everything he can off the field, on the field and he’s really going to believe in people and try to push them forward. I love that from him, and I think I need that.”
Kyle Carr has made 10 appearances this season for Ignite FC ahead of Wednesday night's contest with Toronto FC II. | Photo courtesy Miguel Arcaute / Lansing Ignite FC
With 10 appearances, including eight starts, for Ignite FC ahead of the club’s game on Wednesday night against Toronto FC II at Cooley Law School Stadium (7 p.m. ET | Match Center | ESPN+), Carr has been one of the regulars to feature in Lansing’s lineup this season.
Six-and-a-half years on from their first encounter, Miller is thrilled the player he saw as a talented youngster is getting the chance to reach his full potential under his watch.
“He’s a great kid, great young man,” Miller told Friend. “I’m really excited to give him his opportunity and he’s earned it.
“Every time I tried to recruit him, something just didn’t work out. [It all] helped him grow into what he is now.”