Add a Columbus Crew jersey to your next wish-list and start getting excited for the MLS season to begin. On January 18th, Butler Senior and soccer star, Ben Sippola, was selected as the 30th pick in the 2011 Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by the Columbus Crew. There were rumors that New York would take Sippola and others that suggested Columbus was the team most excited about the talented midfielder, but one thing was for sure - Ben Sippola was going to be picked and would play professionally.
The afternoon of the draft, Sippola was monitoring his status via a draft tracker with a few friends when he received a call from his father yelling "Columbus!" Confused, Sippola watched as the draft tracker quickly updated and displayed his name next to Columbus and the 30th overall pick. When the initial shock of excitement began to subside, Sippola realized how great of an opportunity it would be to put on the Crew jersey and represent Butler at a higher level. Plus, the distance doesn't hurt either. "I am a Midwestern guy, so I was thrilled when I knew I would be only three hours from Butler." Ben shared.
Sippola became the sixth player from Butler to be drafted in the MLS and the first since John Mariscalco (Colorado Rapids, 2006). Talk about a successful program - Six players have been drafted to professional teams in just over a 10 year period. Despite the fact that only one of those Bulldogs drafted (Stephen Armstrong) is still playing professionally, Sippola has a chance to play for one of the better teams in the league and will begin training with them tomorrow. "I will be joining the Crew this Sunday. We spend a week in Columbus and then head to Phoenix, Arizona for preseason," Sippola explained.
American soccer fans may recognize the names Robbie Rogers, Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven, and Jeff Cunningham. For those of you who may not have heard of them, you could compare them to NBA veterans who have represented their country at the highest level. Sippola mentioned that "all of these players have proven themselves at the highest level of American soccer even making appearances for the Unites States National Team. My goal is to fill the shoes of these players some day. I cannot wait to learn from them and play with them." Contracts in the MLS, however, are not guaranteed, and Sippola will be fighting for his place on the team as soon as he takes the field on Sunday. "I will be on trial until they offer me a contract. It could be a matter of a week or a month or two before I am offered a contract. I will earn a contract if the coaches feel like I can bring something to the team, whether it be my work rate, tenacity, versatility, etc."
With everyone at camp competing for a first team spot, it may be more likely that Sippola will earn a reserve spot in his first year with the team. Major League Soccer has decided to bring back the Reserve League for the 2011 season and Sippola might find himself suiting up for these games. However, it is important to note that Ben Sippola is exactly the hard working, determined player that could surprise the coaching staff and earn a first team spot. Just ask Coach Findley, who recently left Butler to pursue the head coaching position at North Carolina State in the ACC. Regardless of when Sippola makes his 1st first team appearance, I am confident that he will continue to do what he has done in his three and a half tremendous years at Butler - win.
"I couldn’t be more excited to go to Columbus, I have wanted to be a professional soccer player since I can remember. In spite of this, I will miss the Butler atmosphere, going to basketball games, my professors, the athletic department, and of course my friends. All I can say is “thank you” to everyone at Butler for their support," Sippola concluded.
I will do my best to keep the Butler fanbase updated on Sippola's status, but in the meantime, add the Columbus Crew to the professional teams that Butler is contributing to.