Athlete Profile: Austin Free
Soccer captain and midfielder Austin Free (’13) has grown with The King’s College as it has expanded in size, mission and athletic programs. He has seen teams struggle to find players to fill a roster and to find a space for games, but he has helped pave the way to a promising future. Although Austin knows he will not reap the benefits of the Division III soccer team in the future, he has assisted with and watched recruitment improve, commitment increase and a new and experienced coach come on board. Coach Dan O’Leary has professional playing experience and full-time dedication to the team.
Free has been on the men’s soccer team since freshman year. His soccer career started around age seven and he played in a highly competitive team at Coshocton High School in Ohio.
He says that the road has been tough. When he came to King’s, the team was not in a league and were just trying to get people to play, and finding pick-up games in parks and indoor recreations.
“The best moment so far this season is when two-a-day practices started,” he said. The practices brought back the feeling of soccer being serious and competitive.
Austin notes that his role as captain has given him new values. He motivates people and maintains morale. As a leader, he knows how to value an individual and what they bring to the team, whether it is a good work ethic or dynamic skills. Each person—from the player who plays the most minutes, to the guy at the end of the bench—coming together as a team is important, Free says.
Free also played for the basketball team last year but prefers soccer because it’s more free-flowing and less structured—similar to his personality. Using the analogy of a peg fitting in a hole, he says he is a “universal peg” that can fit in anywhere. The rigorous curriculum has paid off, he says, and the city has expanded his thinking.
Free wants other students to know that the athletes at King’s are just like all the other students, balancing leadership positions and other responsibilities. Michael Medeiros, the other captain of the soccer team, is president of the House of Lewis.
“All the different sports, clubs and Houses shouldn’t compete just to see who gets the most funds, but we all should work together to make King’s a better community and watch it grow,” Free said.