By BRADEN LAYER
---- — At first, it was just to help out.
Alex Carie, then an Effingham junior, was already juggling the demands of basketball and baseball. Soccer hadn't ever been an option, as he had spent his first two fall seasons with the gridiron Hearts. But friends said the team needed some help, and ready to hang up his football cleats, the always-in-action Carie now had an opening in his schedule.
"If I'm not busy, I don't know what to do," he said. "I mean time-wise, I enjoy it."
Carie figured the new sport would be fun, that it couldn't hurt to try his hand at a new experience. That year, the Hearts had few reasons to celebrate, finishing the season with a mark of 1-16. "I didn't know if it was a good decision," he said. Then Carie began putting in the labor, working relentlessly in the offseason to change the program for the better. As a senior, the midfielder helped the Hearts jump 12 spots in the win column, finishing with a school-record 13 victories. "We worked as hard as we could that summer," he said. "It opened my eyes to how much I did like the sport."It seemed unfortunate then, that after two short years, he would have to stop playing the sport he had come to love.
That was until Greenville College kicked off a quick recruiting process."I actually received an email from them, asking if I've heard of their program," Carie said. "I never really thought I'd actually play in college, it's always been in the back of my mind."Greenville, a Christian college affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, invited Carie on a visit. He was sold with the school and the program by the time he drove back east on I-70."My visit is when I fell in love with the school," Carie said. "I know it's not a big school, but it felt like a big family."The Tigers compete in NCAA Division III athletics, and will welcome a brand-new coach this fall, different from the man that originally recruited Carie. Bobby McColl resigned in April, giving way to Chris Swift.
Yet Carie, despite some uneasiness, remained steadfast in his commitment and will begin preseason camp August 13."It's definitely nerve-wracking," he said. "I'm more excited than nervous, to get myself to that next level."Greenville will use him at either midfield or forward, utilizing a strong leg that helped ease his transition to the new sport. "I have the leg to do it," Carie said. "I just need to catch-up to the speed that they're at, as far as little skills with the ball at your feet."Carie showed he's plenty good at catch-up with Effingham, turning a struggling program into a record-setting senior campaign, and the soon-to-be-Tiger isn't finished yet."There have been things that I haven't accomplished yet that I'm looking to accomplish at Greenville," Carie said. "I had this feeling I wasn't done with the sport."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org