Shawnee Mission East soccer star Oliver Bihuniak lived an experience that many adults — not to mention a high school senior — would consider a dream.
School: Shawnee Mission East
Accomplishments: All-state second team (2015), Sunflower League first team (2015)[/pullquote]
Bihuniak had lived in Kansas his entire life when his parents decided it was time for a change back in 2013.
The Bihuniaks packed up their things and headed across the Atlantic, where they spent the next two years living in Valencia, Spain. The experience proved formative for Bihuniak, who is one of the most talented offensive threats on a stacked SM East team. In soccer-crazy Spain, he never had to look far for high-level competition.
“It’s incredible,” Bihuniak said of Valencia. “It’s the third-biggest city in Spain. You don’t ever have to travel for a game because there are so many teams and they’re all so densely compact. There are so many leagues to play in and the competition is incredible.”
Before moving his freshman year, he was playing for the Sporting Kansas City Academy and he said the timing was perfect because moving to Spain allowed him to further his soccer career. He learned a new style of play, which was more technical. He became better on the ball and more confident to dribble. And Bihuniak has brought back a sense of European soccer flair that he’s passed along to his teammates.
“If you look at everyone in Spain, everyone is trying to nutmeg each other in practices and kick it through each other’s legs,” Bihuniak said. “I did that here and now see everyone doing that here.”
Defenders take pride in not getting ‘megged and when it does happen the whole team “oohs and ahhs” until it happens to the next person.
“If you look at practice everyone’s got their eyes all over the place and their legs closed,” he said.
His soccer career will continue at the next level — he’s not sure where yet — but Bihuniak also takes a lot of pride in his academics. Bihuniak has an affinity for math and tutors when he’s not playing soccer or studying. In October, Sports Illustrated featured him in its “Faces in the Crowd” section.
“That was really cool,” he said. “They wrote about our success and how I helped our team in the (Kansas-Missouri Classic). We won that for a second year in a row.”
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