Taylor Bennett, a 2015 Dawson County High School graduate, has spent the past two years playing soccer at Brenau in Gainesville. She sat down with the Dawson County News to share how her experience has been playing at the collegiate level.
How has your athletic career been so far at Brenau?
Thus far I have enjoyed playing soccer at a level which I have never played before. My teammates are a lot of fun to be around and we each push one another to do better.
What were your expectations versus what has happened?
I would say my expectations mostly match up with the actuality of playing at Brenau. I fully expected to be busy all the time during season, although I didn't anticipate the long weekend trips we took both my freshman and sophomore year. Other than being busy and traveling, there wasn't much more I expected besides being able to play my freshman year, which wasn't a reality because I tore my ACL in April of 2015 before my first semester as a freshman.
What position are you playing?
Usually I play outside right midfield, but depending on the team we are playing as well as the formation for that specific game, I can be placed in any offensive position.
How difficult is it to manage your schedule with classes and athletics?
Considering I have been enrolled in school and highly involved with a soccer team (either school or travel) for the majority of my life, I came across little difficulty in balancing school and soccer. College is a little more of a challenge than high school because our team has traveled quite a bit in the last two years I have been at Brenau, but I always find time to finish my assignments, which are usually finished in a hotel room or on the bus.
What is the atmosphere like at the collegiate level versus high school level?
The atmosphere in college compared to high school is much more competitive and serious, after all playing a sport in college is very similar to a full-time job. College soccer is mostly made up of learning how to always have fun, but also knowing when to be serious.
What about the level of competition?
The level of competition in college wasn't as drastic as I anticipated, but I think playing on a higher level travel team during high school adequately prepared me for college soccer. Also, Brenau is an NAIA school so our competition level isn't as demanding as a NCAA D1 school but is still challenging since we don't carry as large of a roster.
How did your experience at Dawson County impact your collegiate career?
Since Coach [Jed] Lacey, head coach for DCHS, was the person to get me in contact with the assistant coach at Brenau, my experience at Dawson greatly impacted my college career. If it wasn't for him I would not be where I am now and wouldn't have become the person Brenau has sculpted me into.
Would you change anything if you could? If so, what?
The only thing I would consider changing is the unfortunate tearing of my ACL, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and therefore wouldn't change anything. Tearing my ACL was such a humbling experience that also taught me a lot about myself and turned me into an overall stronger individual.
What has been the best part of your time at Brenau? Both as individual and as part of a team?
Since I have been in college for two years now I have multiple best parts of my time at Brenau. Brenau is such a wonderful and empowering community of young women who all desire a successful future. I have greatly enjoyed being part of the soccer team, which is basically a sisterhood, as well as being highly involved with things on campus, such as being a writing center tutor and peer assistant. The best part about Brenau is constantly being surrounded by friends and endless support. Plus, the professors are incredible and there is always something happening on campus so it is hard not to get involved and get connected.
What are you studying?
I am a Biology major with a concentration in Pre-professional Health Care and after this upcoming semester I am considering taking on a minor in Psychology.
What would you like to do when you graduate?
My ultimate goal when I graduate is to be accepted into medical school and pursue my M.D.. However, I am also considering other career routes in the medical field and trying to keep an open mind.
Do you get back to Dawsonville much?
During season I don't get many opportunities to come home, but once soccer ends, I try to come home as often as possible to work some on Saturdays and attend church on Sundays. Off-season, which takes place during the spring semester, allows me to come home as often as I want. Brenau is just close enough to home but also just far enough away.
Do you miss it?
I come home quite often so I don't necessarily have time to miss Dawsonville. But there are times during fall semester when I am not able to come home for a month at a time and I will start to miss home.
What is the off-season like for you?
Our off-season allows for free weekends and some free afternoons so the spring semester is mostly used to focus on school work and take as many credit hours as possible. The only slight downside of off-season is having to wake up at 6 a.m. and report to the gym for morning workouts, but is more than worth an early start to the day when we all get free afternoons.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is to become an M.D. and possibly go back and specialize (I have no idea what specialty I would want to persue). But the medical field offers a large variety of jobs that interest me, so in the off chance that I decide medical school is not what I want to do, I have been creating fall-back careers labeled plan B through D. So as of right now I am trying to decide what I specifically want to do but I am weighing all my options and not ruling anything out, that is as long as it is a career in the medical field and requires some type of graduate program.