By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Graduating from Brighton High School in 2014, Dustin Hammer has seen the United States and world because of the game of soccer.
After a standout career for the Cardinals, Hammer took his talents to Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge, Ark.
Fast forward to 2021, Hammer has just returned back from Portugal.
“I signed with a professional sports agency early in 2020, and they facilitated this opportunity for me,” he said. “I was fortunate because I never had any connections prior to last year. I spent years training by myself and trying to get opportunities.”
Always taught soccer was the world’s game, Hammer dreams of reaching the professional level and playing overseas since his days as a Cardinal. Now that he has reached this milestone, Hammer is ready to evolve even more.
“First and foremost, I hope that it makes me a better player and helps me improve,” he said. “I also hope this provides an opportunity for me to grow as a player and be at the highest level in the near future. My dream is to play in the Italian Serie A and for the United States national team.”
Serie A, also called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Scudetto and the Coppa Campioni d’Italia.
On the world stage playing the world’s game, Hammer said his path to European soccer was paved by those who groomed him as a person and athlete.
“Definitely my faith in God, as well as family and friends got me here,” he said. “My parents have always been by my side and have always told me to dream big. After I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 4, the first thing they told me was to never let T1D hold me back. They have never put any external pressure on me and have allowed me to chase my dreams.”
Never using his health as an excuse to excel, Hammer was blessed to have guidance in soccer to further his confidence in life.
“My first coach, Kyle Uselton, has been just as vital to my success,” he said. “He hasn’t left my side since I met him. We had many special moments competing together when I was younger, and the memories I had with him are still my favorite. I’ve known Coach Uselton since I was 10 years old and he has been a constant in my life. He is one of my biggest blessings.”
From Arkansas to Portugal, Hammer has represented Uselton, other coaches and his home town of Brighton.
“It feels good, but I try not think about it too much,” he acknowledged. “The best thing to do is to put your success aside and continue to stay dedicated and persistent. I am aware of the accomplishment and the things I have done, but I stay humble so I can continue to improve. I’m still not where I want to be just yet.”
Chasing the next phase of his dream, the former No. 9 Cardinal has some words of encouragement for current and future Brighton players on the pitch.
“Surround yourself with good people, have fun and enjoy the game,” he concluded. “It’s important to enjoy what you’re doing; that makes hard work and dedication an afterthought. Working hard is important, but what matters the most is believing in yourself.”