WARNER ROBINS — Late in the winter of 2008, tryouts came and went for the Warner Robins soccer program. Tyler Daly wasn’t among the participants.
He had played as a freshman, but Daly said he and Demons head coach Andy Bailey “weren’t on the same page” with regard to the team’s style of play and Daly’s role on it. Besides, as a member of the elite Concorde Fire out of Atlanta, Daly’s club soccer career was in full bloom. But tragedy has a way of forcing people to re-evaluate priorities. A few months after Daly passed on playing for the Demons, his best friend Tyler Renn died in a car accident.
“He was always positive,” Daly said recently of his friend. “I don’t have any memories of him being negative.”
Renn was part of that 2008 Demons team. In fact, the accident occurred just days after the GHSA Region 1-AAAAA champions were knocked out of the state playoffs in the quarterfinals.
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As friends, family and teammates rallied to support one another, Daly knew he had to once again be a part of the team. He and Bailey pulled together.
“My main interest in playing again was for Tyler Renn,” Daly said.
Daly not only played; he excelled.
During his junior and senior seasons, the lanky striker netted 49 goals, including a school-record 29 in 2010. Four of those goals came in the playoffs as the Demons made a fourth consecutive run to the Elite Eight. The 1-AAAAA player of the year is also The Telegraph’s choice for All-Middle Georgia Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“He’s got a superb shot,” Bailey said. “My whole game plan with him was to get him free and clear. ... You get him daylight, and he’s going to put it in the net.”
At 6-foot-1, Daly is tall for a striker, especially in the high school game. That means he’s also dangerous with his head, especially off corner kicks delivered by teammate Kyler Richmond. In addition, when pressured, Daly can use his long legs to maintain possession while searching for a teammate.
But Daly weighs in at just 150 pounds. He knows he’ll need to get thicker and stronger to survive at the collegiate level. He’s planning to play with Middle Georgia College for two years, with the hope of transferring to a Division I school as a junior.
Daly began playing soccer at the U6 level with Central Georgia Soccer Association. Daley took to the game right away, and is never long separated from a ball.
“If you have an interest in something, keep practicing,” Daly said. “If you like something, you might as well be good at it.”
He began focused training with CGSA’s Dean Blain at age 8, a regimen he continues to this day.
“Dean Blain is a big part of this,” Daly said. “He was my teacher.”
But Renn is his inspiration.