Devotion On & Off the Field

By Ryder Shepardson

Most athletes receive the opportunity to play at the varsity level as a senior. Some, if they’re lucky a junior. But at 16 years old, sophomore Austin Killen has not only playing on varsity since last year, but he is now also the captain. 

Austin started playing soccer over 10 years ago, playing at clubs all around the area such as Chicago Inferno, Heat United, Force, and now Sockers FC. He plays year-long at these clubs, as well as participating during the school season. 

This season, Austin led the team to a regional championship, which is a huge jump from their prior season with a disappointing record of three wins and 20 losses. Austin had the second most goals and assists on the team with five each, only topped by senior Sam Bellentuono who had seven and six, respectively.

“The season was really quite a turnaround from last year. Going into varsity again, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think one of the biggest contributors was our new head coach, Coach Lewandowski” Austin said.

Coach “Lew”, as the players call him, was the assistant coach for the boys soccer program under Kris Grabner for six years, before Grabner stepped down following the subpar season last year. Lewandoski also took over the girls program last year, and is proving to be quite efficient with them as well. 

As if leading the team to an 11 win, 11 loss, and one tie season wasn’t enough, Austin has also been applying his hard work ethic to his schoolwork. This year he is taking four honors courses and one AP course as well, and finished last semester with a 4.1 GPA.

“For me, grades have always come first. My parents won’t even let me play if I’m falling behind in school or missing assignments. Even though soccer is a huge part of my life, school will always precede sports,” Austin said.

That is a pretty great mindset to have, and to still be able to be as elite as he is in his sport, Austin seems to have it all figured out.