As an academic career comes to a close, many students find themselves with a definite, “What’s next?” mentality. More school, a real job or a year of travel are always options.
Not too many people put “Play professional soccer” on that list, but Garret Pettis has done just that.
This summer, the forward will join the Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer League (USL). He’ll return to Lipscomb next spring to student teach, but is ready to embark on a professional soccer career for the Islanders, who play 20 minutes from Pettis’ hometown of Elizabethtown, Pa.
For the second year in a row, Lipscomb men’s soccer will have a departing player go pro. Miguel DaSilva joined Santos FC in his native Angola after graduating from Lipscomb with a degree in International Business.
Pettis will see another former Bison in the USL. Ben Page, who graduated as Lipscomb’s all-time leading scorer in 2008, plays for the Charlotte Eagles.
Lipscomb head coach Charles Morrow is happy that Pettis gets to take his talents to the next level.
“It’s obviously well-deserved and a good indication of what he’s achieved,” Morrow said. “It’s good for him professionally and makes us look good as a program. Obviously, we wish Garret the best.”
Lipscomb Sports caught up with Pettis to discuss his try-out process, recent training and hopes for his future in soccer.
LS: Describe your experience at Harrisburg’s training camp.
GP: It was a good week with very tough competition. There were 36 guys trying out for six or seven spots, so the competition was fierce. This was one of the last USL camps out there, so it was a last chance for some.
LS: What was the typical day like?
GP: We worked out twice a day. In the morning, we would have a technical session and play games to warm up. In the afternoon, it was full-field scrimmaging. The coaches were able to weed out some that hadn’t stayed fit since the last season, but the level of competition was very high.
LS: Describe the skill and experience of the other players.
GP: Some were like me, graduating seniors looking to break in. Most were a year or two out of college. There were some that had been in MLS camps or had made the roster but got cut and were here looking for a place to play over the summer. So there was a good blend of youth and experience, but everyone had high ability.
LS: What had you done to prepare for the camp?
GP: I worked out and trained on my own a lot. I did a lot of running as well as strength and conditioning. Sometimes, I would get on the field with my Lipscomb teammates as well.
LS: Talk about the two scrimmage games.
GP: I started, played about 60 minutes and scored our first goal of the match against Long Island. The coaches completely changed the starting line-up the next game, so I didn’t start and got only about 20 minutes of playing time but I expected that and was prepared for it. It felt really good to get that goal.
LS: You’re from the area; did your family go to the scrimmages?
GP: Yes, they came to both. I’m excited to get an opportunity to play in front of them more often.
LS: What do you think impressed the Islander coaches about you?
GP: My ability to link up with our midfielders was a plus for me. Also, being a bit bigger allows me to hold the ball better and I think they liked that.
LS: So what’s next for you?
GP: Once the semester ends, I’ll head to Harrisburg to play for the Islanders. Next spring I’ll return to Nashville to finish my student teaching. Until then, I’ll work on being a soccer player.