By Joseph Wetzler, Staff Writer
Intense, hard, different, three words often mentioned by High Point University freshmen soccer players, Austin Yearwood and Ben Burdon.
With more intense practices, highly structured workouts and new level of competition, the game of soccer has transformed from a hobby in high school, to a lifestyle in college.
The transition from high school athletics to Division-1 athletics is not easy.
Many athletes that attend HPU come as standout players from their high schools. In Yearwood and Burdon’s case, they had been the best players on their teams beginning their freshmen seasons. Dominating opponents and making the game look simple, both knew early on they were legitimate Division-1 talents.
Although Yearwood and Burdon realized their immense talents, neither let their egos get in the way of achieving their dreams, a testament to their character. Both have come to HPU with humble demeanors and an understanding that they are no longer the sole standout players.
“In high school you could dominate the competition,” said Burdon. “But now coming into college you’re fighting every day just for some playing time.”
Another difficult aspect of being a freshman athlete is developing chemistry with new teammates. Teams practice for hours every day trying to develop chemistry and for some, the fear of not being an accepted or valued teammate can be overwhelming and intimidating.
Yearwood was impressed at how close and accepting the HPU team was. He, along with Burdon, picked HPU during the recruiting process mainly because they loved how the team was family-oriented and openly welcomed new players.
“High Point was the only team to sit me down and give me their experiences rather than me having to ask the questions. That was huge for me in my decision,” said Yearwood.
Both players know they are immensely talented, but also realize there are more experienced guys on the team here at HPU. They have worked tremendously hard in practice and the preseason to earn a chance to get on the field, and so far it is paying off.
Yearwood started and played all 90 minutes against rival Elon University in the season opener, logging one assist, while Burdon was asked to come off the bench and provided a goal in his collegiate debut.
Burdon’s advice for incoming athletes is to come in ready to compete and learn. First-year players can learn a lot from upperclassmen, and Burdon advises athletes to listen to the older, more experienced players.
Both have done a great job so far to adapting to the expectations of a Division 1 athlete and following their own advice on how to succeed