BY HOWARD TSUMURA
SCHOOL: Vancouver College
FRESHMAN'S FUTURE: Portland
It speaks to Ben Hemphill's dedication that when it came time to set the most immediate goal in his young life that he not only knew what he wanted to be doing, but where and when as well.
"In Grade 8, 9, 10, whenever we had to do those little plan-your-life things in high school, I always said I wanted to graduate and get a soccer scholarship at the University of Portland," explains the talented centre-midfielder from South Surrey.
Strange how things turn out, but last season while playing with the Vancouver Whitecaps Under-17 team, an assistant coach with the U of P's Pilots saw Hemphill play and just a couple of days later, made that dream come true.
"I was all over that," the Vancouver College Fighting Irish senior says.
Notre Dame and Ohio State were also interested, but the chance to realize a childhood dream and play for one of the best NCAA men's soccer programs on the west coast was too much for Hemphill for turn down.
"My family goes down to Oregon for Christmas a lot and the campus is beautiful," said Hemphill. "It's like Vancouver College, just 10 times bigger."
But it's clearly not just a case of blind luck that he will be competing for the Pilots next season. A provincial team member since the age of 14, and a member of the National Training Centre since age 15, Hemphill's desire to continually improve his game against older and more seasoned competition has seen him practicing up to four times a week with two or three different teams.
But he has also taken the time to work with younger players on a fairly extensive basis through summer camps, and by officiating games, which he has done since Grade 7.
So with a goal-setting acumen that is as sharp as they come, what's Hemphill eyeing beyond his college experience?
"Definitely to try and play professionally," he says. "I am going to stay four years and get my degree, hands down. But I would love to play in the MLS."
Yet there are some other interests he hopes to someday to pursue.
"If not a soccer player, I'd like to be a journalist," he says. "The ESPN anchors, I always thought that they had the dream job. You get to sit there and talk about sports all day. But I'd also like to get into coaching because I've always liked helping other players improve. And coaches have told me that I see the field very well."
When it comes to seeing his future, that's most definitely the case.
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