The old adage defense wins championships is
The center back on the Thomasville (Ga.)
boys soccer team has played a big part in helping his defensive unit tally eight shutouts this season.
After advancing to the Class AA state semifinals a season ago, Thomasville and Christie are hoping to score two more additional wins this year and take home a state title. Defense will certainly be key as the Bulldogs start their postseason push this weekend.
A few shutout victories would just be icing on the cake.
"That's the main goal every game," said Christie, who helped his team capture back-to-back region championships. "I don't really focus on the offense because my goal just is to help my keeper out and to get a shutout means we win."
"He's just a guy that goes out and takes care of business day in and day out, so we just need him to be him," Bulldogs boys soccer coach Keith Gwaltney said. "If he can do that, and he is playing that center back position, and he's got a senior next to him and they've been playing together all year; they've been working really well together. That's going to be huge if you can keep the center of your defense together like that, and they communicate very well."
It's pretty amazing that Thomasville has only won two other games this season that weren't via shutout.
Gwaltney has witnessed firsthand the desire of Christie to not allow any goals on his watch. The shutouts are very important to him.
"I know he takes it personally whenever we give up goals," Gwaltney said. "He's had to battle through some sickness and some injury situations and he just wants to be out there.
"He's been doing a great job for us."
Including scrimmages, Thomasville has surrendered nine goals in 17 games this season.
Since starting soccer at age 7, Christie has always thrived in the defensive zone. He enjoys playing center back.
"It's always like a one-on-one competition," Christie said. "You're always locking someone down instead of playing up top and trying to score goals. You're preventing them and trying to help out the team. If they don't score, they don't win."
Christie, whose surname was recently changed from Sadler, has started both of his varsity seasons. The sophomore took advantage of his shot to play so many valuable minutes as a freshman and that paid dividends this season.
"You're playing against seniors as a freshman, so it helped because I could learn about the physicality of the game and just the pace of it and help slow it down," said Christie, who was named second-team all-region as a freshman.
Having all that experience last season really helped Christie's leadership abilities and his vocal skills on the field.
"He's kind of a quiet kid," Gwaltney said. "Once he gets onto the field, he's a talker. He's a quiet kid and he's humble. What we've seen from him this year and last year is he's a kid that goes out there and just kind of takes care of business. He will do whatever he needs to do regardless of who he's on the field with."
Gwaltney calls Christie a fearless, coachable player who is a solid athlete. As a freshman, Christie played football but gave it up this year to concentrate on his one love, soccer.
Christie has a solid 6-foot frame and is the best player on his team at heading the ball. He loves to get in the air.
His soccer IQ continues to increase the more he plays.
"The more he understands, the more confident he's going to be, the more he's going to be able to step up," said Gwaltney, who believes Christie can be a solid Division II soccer player if he decides to go that route in college.
As well as being a cerebral soccer player, Christie is an exceptional student. While taking two advanced placement courses this year, he's put up a 4.2 grade point average.
"I'm a scholar athlete, so that has to come first," Christie said. "It's not really that hard to balance those two."
Christie, who recently got inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS), enjoys taking part in volunteer projects around Thomasville. His school requires 20 hours of community service per school year but Christie tries to exceed that number.
He had to do two service projects this year for NHS. The first was helping with Hands on Thomas County, where he went around the community and picked up trash. The other project was doing whatever was needed to make a downtown ceremony go off without a hitch.
Christie has tried to use some of his volunteer hours to aid in what he might study once he heads off to college. The 16-year-old latched onto a movie production company, Thirdwheel Productions, that was filming in his hometown. Christie was able to help on set with various duties including directing and running camera. He found it to be an extremely valuable learning experience.
Christie — who is very respectful when talking to his elders by saying, "Yes, sir. No, ma'am" — has lived a very straight-laced life. His dad, Cory, spent four years in the Marines, including a stint in Iraq, and put in one year with the Army Reserve.
"It's made me better," Christie said. "You get more structure and he's able to teach you to be a man, really, more than most kids."
Know an incredible student-athlete who stands out in sports and in life away from competition? Click here to nominate them for a chance to be featured on MaxPreps.