By People Staff
March 25, 1996 12:00 PM

FOR MONTHS, BOB BLETCHER, COACH of the Claremont (Calif.) Stars soccer club couldn’t figure out why so many young girls were calling him to ask about the team’s schedule. “Then,” he recalls, “it hit me—’Oh, it’s Zach.’ ”

Zach, or Zachery Ty Bryan, 14, who plays forward on Bletcher’s squad, also happens to play Brad, smart-aleck oldest son of Tim Allen on ABC’s smash sitcom Home Improvement. He may not be as big a teen-zine idol as Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who plays his younger brother Randy, but with about 1,000 fan letters a week, Bryan has become a star in his own right. His new feature film, First Kid, a comedy starring Sinbad, opens in August. And the phone at his family’s four-bedroom home in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., rings so often with calls from girls that his mom, Jenny, 39, jokes, “Just call me the answering machine.”

Sprawled on a comfy living-room couch, Bryan says he wanted to get into TV since age 5 because “I always looked up to Fred Savage on The Wonder Years.” After Bryan acted in a few commercials, he and his mom set out from the family home in Aurora, Colo., for Hollywood in 1991, and in less than five weeks he landed his role on Home Improvement. “Zach walked in the room and it just lit up,” says executive producer Carmen Finestra. Zach’s dad, Dwight, 41, resigned as VP of a Colorado pipeline company and came to California (with Zach’s sister Ciri, 9) to manage his son’s career. “We didn’t want to live apart,” Dwight says.

Bryan’s TV dad, Allen, says the life of a child actor can be “strange” but “Zach is not caught up in it because he’s such a good athlete.”

And soccer has its perks. “Every so often the sisters of players notice me and go a little wild on the sidelines,” says Bryan nonchalantly. “I have my eyes on a lot of ’em.”