Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Freshman phenom returns

In this day and age, it has become seemingly commonplace for star high school athletes to forgo their college career for the money and fame in the pros. This happens in baseball, basketball and even football. \nBut soccer?\nFreshman Ned Grabavoy Jr. had that opportunity. Grabavoy turned down professional offers from Germany and Holland, as well as scholarships from Virginia and UCLA, to come play for the Hoosiers and coach Jerry Yeagley. \n"Ned was well-known since he was 15 as one of the top players in the region," Yeagley said. "We were very pleased when he decided to go to college. Players like him don't come around very often."\n Amid high expectations, Grabavoy's collegiate career began on a sour note. \nToward the end of the first day of practice, Grabavoy broke his foot by fracturing his second, third and fourth metatarsals. After about eight weeks of rehabilitation, Grabavoy entered the final two minutes of the Butler match last Thursday, in which Yeagley earned his 500th victory. Yeagley said Grabavoy is expected to see his first substantial amount of playing time this weekend, as the team travels to Wisconsin and Northwestern.\n"We are taking him with us," Yeagley said. "We'll see how many minutes he gets. He won't be starting, but hopefully as the season goes on and he gets more match-fit, we can move him into a starting position." \nGrabavoy said it might take time to return to form, but is optimistic his return will be a success.\n"I'm a little rusty and it'll be tough getting back into shape, but I hope i'll be able to contribute instantly," he said. "Coaches think I can, and I think I can, so anything else would be a disappointment." \nBefore coming to IU, Grabavoy was a midfielder and a forward for Lincoln-Way High School in Illinois. In his junior and senior year at Lincoln-Way, Grabavoy scored a combined 79 goals and 23 assists, in 53 games, leading his team to a record of 54-2-2 in those seasons. \nIn addition to captaining the under-18 national team and earning PARADE All American honors, Grabavoy was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of American National Player of the Year for his senior season.\nAfter dominating high school soccer, Grabavoy said he is adjusting to the next level.\n"It's a lot different (than high school)," Grabavoy said. "The intensity is high all game. There is never a point where it drops and everyone is able to relax. It is also harder playing against older people with a lot more experience." \n"Ned is the kind of player that when the ball gets to him, good, exciting, things happen," Yeagley said. "He has an awareness that not many players have. Seems to know where his teammates are so he can make those passes, those Larry Bird-type passes, that make you say 'gosh, how did he see that?'"\nListed at 5 feet 7 and 155 pounds, Grabavoy proves you do not have to be big in stature to be successful on the field.\n"In soccer, a low center of gravity is not a bad thing," Yeagley said. "When he's got the ball at his feet he is tough, he can play 6 feet tall. When you watch him on the field without the ball, you think 'is that really a great player', but when he gets the ball at his feet, you know pretty quickly."\nFellow freshman and starting midfielder Danny O'Rourke has been playing with Grabavoy for the last five years on regional and national teams. \n"What makes him better is that he is smarter," O'Rourke said. "He keeps the ball and seldom loses it. There is something about him that is different. He just plays smooth."\nWhen asked to compare Grabavoy's potential with that of the many Hoosier great soccer players Yeagley replied, "He has the potential to be special, and I don't say that about too many people"

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe