Connor Scott experienced a situation that most people can only dream of. In his last collegiate soccer game, the G-MAC championship, he scored a goal that became the difference in a 1-0 victory for the Cedarville men’s soccer team, winning the conference title.
“It was a surreal moment,” he said, “and it’s probably one of the best sports memories I’ll ever have.”
Five days later, Scott traded the grass for the hardwood, stepping into the gym to prepare for the upcoming basketball season. According to Scott and his coaches, his determination and passion for sports and other people help him to excel on and off the field and the court.
On the field
Scott’s collegiate soccer career got off to a rough start. He played four different positions his freshman year and was unable to gain confidence on the field. Todd Beall, the head coach at the time, told Scott he was in danger of being cut from the varsity team.
“He asked me what I would do if I wasn’t playing a varsity sport here,” Scott said. “I told him I would pick a team from our next year’s schedule and I would go play for them.”
Scott said Beall liked this attitude and gave him a trial in the winter and spring to see if he could improve. Scott credits God with getting him through that time.
“It was a huge God thing that I was able to stay on the team and be able to be successful,” he said.
Current head coach Brett Faro, who was an assistant coach when Scott came in, recalled that Scott was a very raw player at first.
“He played at a really small Christian school, had a lot of success in high school,” Faro said, “but he wasn’t very polished, so when he played the college game, he struggled a bit technically – passing, receiving, turning.”
Faro said that Scott accepts criticism and uses it as a chance to improve. This is evident in Scott’s growth since freshman year, Faro said, and he is not the same player that stepped onto the field in 2011.
In his senior campaign, Scott led the team in assists and was third on the team in goals scored.
Faro said he has been impressed with Scott’s work ethic, positive attitude and dedication and said he enjoyed watching Scott develop as a player. But Scott is more than just a good soccer player, Faro said. He is a selfless teammate.
“From day one, he has always been a team-first player,” Faro said. “Whether he played 10 minutes, 90 minutes or didn’t play at all, he was about whatever was best for the team.”
Although he scored three goals in this year’s conference tournament, Scott didn’t pat himself on the back. Instead, he gave the credit to his teammates.
“I had three goals because I had three players give me three unbelievable passes,” he said. “I was just very excited to step up for my team as a senior, and for the other seniors especially, and get those goals when we needed them.”
On the court
This unselfish attitude has followed Scott to the basketball court. In the winter of 2013, he talked to head coach Pat Estepp about joining the team. Estepp told him the team could use a practice player to help the other guys improve, and Scott accepted.
The transition from soccer to basketball was rough at first. Scott had to find time during the soccer season to take part in basketball workouts. He went from being one of the tallest and most athletic members of the soccer team to one of the shortest and least athletic members on the basketball team. But this wasn’t the most difficult part of the transition for Scott.
“I’d say the hardest thing for me has definitely been the speed of the game,” he said, “since I haven’t really played competitively since high school.”
Despite this, Estepp said Scott has impressed him so far.
“When he comes to practice, he comes to work,” Estepp said. “He’s going to try to make himself better and make his teammates better.”
Because of the conflicting schedules of the soccer season and basketball preseason, Scott was unable to participate in many practices with the basketball team. The night of the team’s season opener, he’d only had two practices under his belt. Although he had played in front of big crowds before, Scott admitted to being nervous before the game.
“That first game, the game at 11, it was wild,” he said. “We had big crowds at my high school games, the whole town would come out, but it was nothing like the size of Cedarville’s gym, and it was fun to see and I was definitely nervous before going out for warm-ups and stuff.”
Although he is currently a practice player who sits on the bench for most of the game, Scott is not complaining.
“My goal for the year is to help the team in any way possible,” Scott said. “If that means I play zero minutes and I just try to make the team better in practice, so be it. But I definitely have a goal to be an impact player on the court.”
Scott has gotten the attention of the coaches due to his determination and non-stop motor.
“He just really competes, plays every play hard, goes all out, and that’s probably one of the biggest things he does for us,” Estepp said. “And he may give himself a chance to get in a game because he plays so hard.”
A physical education major, Scott said he hopes to coach basketball at the high school level after graduation. One of the reasons he joined the basketball team, he said, was so he could learn enough about the game to coach others in the sport.
“I love working with kids,” he said, “they’re just so impressionable. And as a teacher and a coach, you have such a pedestal to influence them, and in my case, influence them for Christ.”
Scott said he doesn’t want to be only a coach, but a good role model as well.
“Something that’s very lacking in the schools is male leadership, especially Christian male leadership,” he said. “And hopefully that’s something I can give to a school basketball program.”
Scott isn’t waiting until he lands a coaching job to start leading others. Faro said Scott has excelled at being a leader on the soccer team.
“One of the big pieces of our program is we want to develop leaders who can change lives for Christ,” Faro said, “and he buys into that mission. He wants to grow and he wants to see the younger players grow. He’s been a great servant-leader in that way for us.”
Jon Gallardo is a junior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys writing, playing basketball and quoting Napoleon Dynamite. He hopes to one day play in the NBA.
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