Garret Pettis left Lipscomb University as the all-time record holder in goals scored with 34. He was a three-time Atlantic Sun All-Conference selection and was Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year. His soccer career is still going strong. In March he renewed his contract with the Harrisburg (Pa.) City Islanders of the United Soccer League (USL-Pro). He is entering his third season, but spent the 2013 season on the sidelines with a hip injury. He coaches youth soccer, teaches youth clinics and is preparing for the City Islanders regular season opener April 19. He managed to find some time to talk with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play soccer at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played soccer at Lipscomb from 2008 through 2011. I played for head coach Charles Morrow and assistant coach Kevin Burk."
You are a native of Pennsylvania. What influenced your decision to attend Lipscomb and play soccer?
"I had a lot of injuries during the recruiting process in high school. Lipscomb was one of the few schools that really kind of stuck their neck out for me. They offered me a great opportunity to come in and succeed instantly.
"Other schools made offers, but I don't think I would have had the immediate impact at those schools that I had at Lipscomb. I loved the opportunity to come down and play in Nashville."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"I would have to say the game where I scored four goals against North Florida or Senior Night when I scored my 32nd goal to set the all-time goal scoring record at Lipscomb. It was awesome to do it on Senior Night in front of my family and have them all there to watch it as well. Actually, I think that one probably takes the cake."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"I would say Kevin Burk. He went to a smaller college and ended up having a pretty good professional career for a couple of years.
"His work ethic and his knowledge of the game really stood out for me. It was the little things he showed me like being a situational player and knowing what to do when you get in certain situations - knowing what situations you can thrive in and how to set yourself up to be in those situations.
"I really enjoyed playing for him. We still have a very good relationship. A couple of weeks ago we had lunch and just talked soccer.
"He has been instrumental in my career, even professionally. I played indoor professional soccer a little in Rochester, N.Y. Kevin played for the Harrisburg Heat in indoor soccer. I watched them play when I was younger. And then he played in Milwaukee in indoor soccer."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"It is hard to think of one specific one. I just really enjoyed being outside all during the year. I enjoyed going to different places around Nashville and doing things like checking out the parks, hanging out and walking around Nashville.
"I loved the whole Nashville feel. It is everything you can really ask for in a city."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I think it would be establishing who I am as an athlete and as a person. I developed a work ethic while I was at Lipscomb. I learned how to take care of my business. I learned how to display myself as an athlete and as a person and how to establish good relationships as well.
"It helped me learn how to manage my faith. It helped me keep it all in perspective."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I absolutely loved Dr. Lynn Griffith. He had a sports background. We connected on a lot of levels. I had some up and down years. I got much better as I continued on in college. But he was always there to give me a reality check every now and then, to give me a pep talk and make sure that my head was on straight.
"He understood the life of an athlete and the importance of being a good student-athlete. He really helped me keep myself grounded for the most part. He kept me from getting too caught up in myself and my sport. He reminded me that athletics and academics can go together in college."
Where do you live now?
"I live in the Harrisburg-Hershey, Pa., area."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am a center-forward for the Harrisburg City Islanders in the USL which is pretty similar to the role I played at Lipscomb. I missed all of last year because of my injury but it was kind of a blessing in disguise because I was able to come back to Lipscomb and finish my degree.
"I finished my rehab in Nashville and received my degree in Health and Physical Education at the December graduation.
"Our team has a youth academy and this summer I will be coaching a U-9 boys’ team which will be my first opportunity to be a head coach. I am really looking forward to that."
What is it like to play soccer professionally?
"It is literally living the dream. Soccer is the only thing I have really truly enjoyed and I have tried to make sure I have made the best of my opportunities.
"I told my parents when I was five the only thing I wanted to do was play soccer. It is pretty surreal to finally achieve my dream. Right now the key is to not be satisfied with where I am.
"There are opportunities to progress my career from here as a player. Long term I would like to coach on the collegiate level.
"I am learning as much as I can about the game. On the professional level you have to be a total player. I have redefined the way I play. Especially at this level there is so much more to learn. I am trying to be a student of the game and take in as much as I can."
Tell us about your family.
"I am still single."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.