Maria Burns Ortiz

Life is Measured by Goals Achieved, Not Goals Scored

by Maria Burns Ortiz November 21, 2008 in Men's Soccer


Maybe I’m old school – although, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not sure if I’m actually old enough to be that old school – but I come from the school of thought where the idea of going to college is to graduate from college.

That’s why it irks me when I write a piece on a college player who has the potential to become a professional and get the response, “If he’s good enough to go pro, why on earth is he wasting his time going to college?”

It’s argued whether the college game adequately prepares players for the next level, but maybe, just maybe, there’s more to life than soccer. Revolutionary thinking, I know.

Some players – not just in soccer – view college merely as a steppingstone, or they see professional opportunities they feel are too good to pass up, I understand that. But there is something refreshing about seeing players have the drive and commitment to follow through on obtaining their degrees.

Such dedication is what impressed me most about last year’s M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner (and Lowe’s Senior CLASS finalist) O’Brian White of Connecticut on the biggest night of his career. It would have been understandable if White had opted to forego his senior year and entered his name in the MLS SuperDraft. Coming off a stellar season, his stock couldn’t get much higher.

But on that night, White made clear his intentions to return – citing, in order, a promise to his mother (“to be one of the first people in my family to graduate with a four-year degree”) and a commitment to his team. It wasn’t just about himself.

Each of the nominees for this award understands and embodies this dedication. They are all outstanding players and will leave marks on their respective programs, impressions made indelible by these young men’s commitments to stay with their programs. 

South Florida’s Yohance Marshall understands firsthand the determination it takes to see a goal through – and the dividends it pays. In his final season, he helped lead USF to its first Big East championship in program history, and in a matter of weeks, he’ll earn his diploma a semester early.

Dylan Curtis committed to a UC Davis program making the leap to Division I and will leave having helped build a strong foundation for a promising program. Sam Cronin has the opportunity to help lead Wake Forest to a second-straight national title. A.J. Glubzinski has balanced playing college soccer with the rigors of West Point and will go on to make as great an impact as one can make, serving his country.

Brown’s Dylan Sheehan and Harvard’s Michael Fucito have both overcome season-ending injuries, emerged as role models and will graduate with Ivy League educations. Notre Dame’s Matt Besler, Eastern Illinois’ Adam Gartner and UMKC’s Garret Guthrie are team leaders, standout students and active members of their home and campus communities.

There’s a reason deciding on a school is called “committing.” It’s about more than going to play soccer – or at least it should be.

For these players, and every other player in the country they represent, it signifies a promise to oneself, one’s family, one’s teammates. It’s about finishing what they started, not just on the field, but off it.