Brent McIntosh: A Road Less Traveled
Nov. 19, 2013
By Jason Pearson, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
His Spartan career is nearing its conclusion and yet he’s just finishing up his first full year on the field. He is not the loudest voice in the locker room and yet he’s extremely well-respected. He has not had the typical path to becoming a Spartan student-athlete and yet here he is, living out his goal of playing soccer at the Division I level. He’s scored one goal in his career at Michigan State and yet he just wants to be known as someone who worked hard and “did everything he could for the team to try to make them successful.”
Brent McIntosh’s career in a Michigan State soccer uniform has been anything but conventional.
His path to MSU began in his hometown of Rochester, Mich., competing on the Stoney Creek High School team. Soccer was the sport he loved playing and competing in, but there came a time during his high school career that the fling he had for the game gave out.
“There was a point where soccer wasn’t really in the books for me,” McIntosh said. “I don’t really know what got me out of it, just burn out maybe, lost a little bit of interest.”
His stellar high school play, however, gained the attention from nearby Schoolcraft College, located about an hour south of Rochester in Garden City, Mich. Head coach Rick Larson offered McIntosh an opportunity to continue playing soccer at the junior college level. McIntosh accepted the offer and found his love for the game start to return, buoyed by the element of being part of an elite team in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association. In his two years as part of the team, Schoolcraft compiled a total record of 39-4-2, including a 22-0-1 mark in his sophomore season.
“I got back on a good team and it just kind of all came back to me,” said McIntosh. “I remembered how much I enjoyed playing.”
Playing midfield, McIntosh lit up the scoreboard in his time under Coach Larson, tallying a total of 14 goals and adding 21 assists in 45 games, good for a 1.09 points per game average. His sophomore year, Schoolcraft also won the Region XII soccer championship and ended the season ranked No. 6 in the country.
After completing his time at Schoolcraft, McIntosh transferred to East Lansing, Mich., where he began his degree in interdisciplinary social sciences. His relationship with MSU head soccer coach Damon Rensing dates back to his youth soccer days competing under Rensing in the Olympic Development Program. McIntosh also notes having familiarity with assistant coach Ben Pirmann for a few years.
McIntosh’s path at MSU was well on its way before it took another twist when he sprained his medial collateral ligament (MCL) a week before coming to MSU in 2012. He was able to play in two games, including assisting on Cody Henderson’s game-winning goal against Providence on Sept. 9, 2012. McIntosh was not able to shake the injury, however, and ultimately decided to take a redshirt and a full year for his MCL to recover.
“It was one of those nagging injuries where I wanted to come back last year,” he said. “I played in two games and just kept re-injuring it. It was one of those things where I felt that if I was really going to benefit the team, I needed to be fully healthy and fit. I thought coming in off an injury, unfit, halfway into the season would not be the best way to help out the team.”
As one of six seniors, McIntosh began the 2013 campaign injury-free and felt ready to contribute to the team. His contribution to this team, though, would be slightly different than contributions he’s made to all the other teams he’s been a part of. Going through high school, his junior college days and his days competing on the Detroit-based Vardor SC club team, McIntosh has been a stat-sheet filler.
With the Spartans, McIntosh took the role of being a solid all-around player on the field. His name won’t always show up on the stat sheet, but he has been responsible for numerous stops on the defensive end and for initiating the offensive attack downfield. He has given special attention to upping his defensive game, mainly because on his other teams before MSU he was not given much defensive responsibility so he could save his energy for offense.
“The styles were a little bit different and I had more of a free roaming role. I had less defensive responsibility for sure,” McIntosh said. “But at this level, there’s no room for a guy who doesn’t play defense, I learned that pretty quick.
“I think I’m just working hard offensively and defensively, defensively especially because that’s never been my strong suit and I’ve been really trying to work at that,” he said. “There have been a couple times where I made some good defensive plays which obviously help out the team. I think just in film, watching positioning is huge. I also think that from spring to this fall I worked really hard over the summer on my fitness. Fitness is huge because if you’re chasing guys 40 yards down the field you need to have energy to stay in front of them and make sure they don’t get a cross off.”
Not only did he find and fit into his role on the field extremely well, but he also fit harmoniously into his role off the field. McIntosh notes how he has continued to work hard and has taken the lead-by-example role.
“Any time you come in from a junior college and you only spend two years, it’s harder to blend in with a group that’s been with each other for a while,” said head coach Damon Rensing. “That’s been pretty seamless for Brent, he’s got along with the guys really well. They’ve responded to him, he hasn’t come in and tried to do too much or be too forceful in things, and yet he’s put his imprint on the team.”
McIntosh has one goal to his credit, but that one goal could not have come at a better time. In the 56th minute of the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal matchup with Ohio State on Nov. 13, McIntosh netted his first career goal. That game-winning goal put MSU up 1-0 in a game the Spartans would ultimately win 2-0 and earned McIntosh a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament team.
McIntosh’s path has been out of the ordinary and yet he’s seen Spartan success and has served as a role model for those coming after him.
“Brent probably didn’t have the normal path the way some kids do and I think it’s a great sign for a lot of young men that you can take different paths to get to an end goal,” Rensing said.
“Maybe things didn’t work out exactly the way he expected out of high school and yet he didn’t give up and stayed with things … and I think that’s a testament to Brent.”