Grace Fern, sophomore nursing major, recently went from playing basketball for the Lady Bulldogs to playing soccer for Union.
Fern started her freshman year with the basketball team as a walk-on. This year, as a sophomore, Fern decided to make the switch.
“The original reason I wanted to switch to soccer this year was because of scholarship money,”
Fern said. “There weren’t many guard scholarships with basketball.”
After making the decision, Fern learned that a soccer scholarship would be unavailable to her this
year because of National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship rules.
Still, the loss of an athletic scholarship for this year did not squelch Fern’s desire to play for the team.
“I saw that many nursing majors were having a hard time juggling their work and playing basketball
because of the schedule,” Fern said. “Soccer seemed more manageable, though.”
Fern has not played soccer competitively since her sophomore year of high school at Faith
Academy International School in Manila, Philippines, but has been told she has a natural ability to excel in the sport.
She is playing under head coach Isaac Brooks this season.
“Grace is really hard working and extremely athletic,” Brooks said. “You could tell she was a little rusty at first, but she is catching up fast because good, hardworking athletes like her don’t need much time to figure things out.”
Madison Purdy, sophomore math major, will also be competing alongside Fern on the soccer team this year.
“Grace works hard, which pushes everyone else to do better,” Purdy said. “I think Grace will contribute the one piece we missed last year, which is the ‘killer instinct’ when in front of the goal.”
Since Fern has made the switch from soccer to basketball she is expected to get more time on the field as a striker than she had on the court as a point guard.
She said she is excited to take on her new role under Brooks this season.
“I really like the soccer coach, Isaac,” Fern said. “I feel relaxed around him, and I have a more enjoyable and fun time.”
Fern also has an opportunity to get to know an entirely new set of teammates.
“A lot of my best friends are on the basketball team, however, I relate with a lot more girls on the soccer team,” she said. “They’re really fun, and I think I have good bonds with them.”
Brooks has been a firsthand witness to Fern’s leadership on the team.
“Grace is already showing that she has the ability to be a spiritual leader on our team,” Brooks said. “Grace has a goal scorer’s mindset, so that, combined with speed and strength, could make her a factor for us in the future.”
Fern said she plans to finish her college career on the women’s soccer team.