Grant Stoneman played only one season of soccer at Wheaton Academy, but he left his mark on the program.
It’s a legacy that is continuing to grow.
Stoneman, a St. Charles resident, became the first player from the West Chicago school to be drafted by a Major League Soccer team when he was selected by the Chicago Fire with the 55th pick of the 2019 MLS Super Draft.
The 6-foot-1 defender, who recently wrapped up his college career at Loyola, now will compete for a pro contract and a spot on the Fire roster. The MLS season begins March 2.
“It was definitely awesome,” Stoneman said. “I knew I was in the running this year but I didn’t know exactly who I would be drafted by.
“Nowadays, getting drafted doesn’t mean as much as it does if you get drafted in the NFL, so I just have to work for my spot and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
Stoneman began his high school career at Burlington Central before transferring to Wheaton Academy after his freshman year. He sat out his sophomore season due to IHSA transfer rules but then led the Warriors to a fourth-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament as a junior in 2012.
Playing in the midfield, Stoneman scored a team-high 28 goals and had 18 assists that season. The Warriors lost in a shootout to eventual state champion Peoria Notre Dame in the semifinals.
It was the second time the Warriors had won a trophy but their first in Class 2A and first under coach Jeff Brooke. Stoneman elected to play club soccer as a senior, but his one campaign with the Warriors kicked off a run of four state trophies in six years, including the 2014 state championship.
“Grant was a dynamic player for us,” Brooke said. “His junior year was when we went over the edge that we’d been trying to cross and made it to state.
“We played him as a central mid and he did it all. He was a dynamic athlete, just so good with the ball, and then he has shifted to the center back position in the college world and beyond.”
Stoneman signed with Wisconsin and played one season for the Badgers. He transferred to Loyola and became the first player in program history to earn First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors three times.
That included a sterling 2018 season in which Stoneman was named MVC Defensive Player of the Year. He also finished second on the team in scoring with three goals.
“I’m super-proud of him,” Brooke said. “It’s fun to celebrate your players going on and doing the types of things that Grant has been able to do.
“I think he’s tried to grow at every spot he’s been a part of. It’s great for the tradition of the program, too.
“Our goal is to provide a great experience at the high school level but also prepare you for life beyond.”
In that, the school succeeded. Stoneman credited Wheaton Academy for providing a solid foundation for he and his brother, Ethan, a forward who played on the Warriors’ 2014 state title team and was Grant’s teammate last fall at Loyola.
“Attending Wheaton Academy was great,” Stoneman said. “I think it made me into the person that I am today. Just having Jeff there to guide me through those high school years was obviously awesome and shaped me into whom I am today.”
Brooke, who still keeps in touch with Stoneman’s parents, attended Loyola’s game against Northwestern in September in which three former Warriors were in the starting lineup. Ty Seager, who was Gatorade Illinois Player of the Year as a junior, plays for Northwestern.
Stoneman graduated from Loyola in December with a degree in sociology. He plans to be a social worker one day but for now wants to play soccer for as long as possible.
The Fire likely will loan Stoneman to one of their affiliates in the United Soccer League, Indianapolis or Lansing, this year for seasoning.
“I talked to [the coaches] and I think they want me to develop a little bit first,” Stoneman said. “Hopefully I get brought back in during the year.
“Right now I’m just trying to take the opportunity, work hard and hopefully it pays off.”