For Michigan graduate student Brent Medema, the door of opportunity seemed to slam too early on his college soccer dreams.
But thanks to the Michigan men’s club soccer team, he managed to reach his goals.
He was an all-state player during his senior year at Portage High School in Portage, Mich., and was recruited by some of the top schools in the country, including Michigan and national championship qualifier St. John’s University in New York.
He followed his goal of playing at one of the top schools in the country by signing with St. John’s, but after a semester, he realized he wanted to play closer to home.
After transferring to Michigan, varsity men’s soccer coach Steve Burns, who recruited him a year before, told Medema he would need to try out for the varsity team.
In the fall of his sophomore year, he tried out and didn’t make the cut. Devastated, he looked elsewhere to play and found the Michigan men’s club soccer team.
“It was a difficult time for me,” Medema said. “It was hard to accept playing club soccer when I knew I was capable of playing at the Division-I level. But I realized soccer still needed to be a part of my life.”
Medema led the club team to a national championship during his junior year. He scored the game winner in the title game against the University of Illinois and was also named the National Tournament MVP.
Being the team’s center back, the last line of defense, made the accomplishment that much sweeter.
Center backs don’t normally score goals — especially not game-winners.
Suddenly, it seemed as though the door was still wide open. His dream was still very much alive and he was living it.
“When my attitude shifted and I was able to realize the positive aspects of the situation, I turned a down time into three of the best years of my life,” Medema said.
Medema knew his senior year wouldn’t be his last. Being a club athlete gives students six years of eligibility, so Medema still had three years left to play after he graduated.
When he learned he would be attending Michigan’s School of Dentistry after his senior year, Medema decided to juggle graduate work with athletics.
“It’s hard to give it up,” Medema said. “ I think I have a unique opportunity to continue playing that not a lot of people have, and I wanted to take advantage of it.”
While he can’t always attend all three practices per week on top of his 40 hours of dental school classes, his teammates still admire his dedication.
“People on the team recognize he has another commitment, but we still respect him as a leader on the team even though he’s not there all the time,” fifth-year senior midfielder Brad Murphy said.
Brent Medema, the Division-I recruit turned club soccer star, has turned in a pretty impressive career sofar. Lucky for him and his teammates, he still has three more years to open more eyes to collegiate soccer.