By Nick Greenizan
One of Peace Arch United’s youngest stars is headed stateside this summer, after nabbing a university soccer scholarship.
Ben Hemphill, 18, signed earlier this year to play with the NCAA’s University of Portland Pilots. The signing ends a recruiting process that began in March 2008 when Hemphill made a verbal commitment to the school.
“It’s going to be really good, I think. I was going to spend some time going to a bunch of different camps – at Notre Dame and Ohio State – but Portland was always my first choice, so now this saves me some time and money,” said the Peninsula native and student at Vancouver College.
Hemphill, who knows an assistant coach on the team, was wooed by the Portland campus, as well as its scholastic pedigree; Hemphill plans on studying journalism.
“I went down to the school a couple times, and I just really liked it there. It reminded me a little bit of Vancouver College – just 10 times as big,” he said.
Hemphill highlights a recruiting class that includes three American freshman, plus fellow Surrey native Justin Baarts from Tamanawis Secondary.
“We’re very excited about this group,” Portland head coach Bill Irwin said.
“They all come highly regarded and we have high expectations for them.
“Three of the four have represented their countries at different youth levels and we know that they’re going to challenge our current players and make us even better.”
Hemphill has plenty of high-level experience in addition to playing with Peace Arch United’s men’s premier team.
The six-foot-one midfielder has played with the B.C. provincial team since he was 14 years old, and went to Holland with the Vancouver Whitecaps U17 team.
Hemphill has also been a part of Canada’s national training program since he was 15, and this summer he will play for the Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects team in the Pacific Coast Soccer League.
He’ll leave mid-July for Portland, and the college season begins in late August.