Winthrop men's soccer player Ted Bartels didn't make the kind of grades he should have in his first year of college in 2006. He was left having to pay for his education out of his own pocket.
He comes from Collierville, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis, and a family that always seemed to have someone serving in the military. Serving his country was always something he thought about as a kid, but it was soccer that took him to college. It has been the military that has allowed him to continue pursuing his degree and play soccer.
Bartels (pronounced bar-TELLS) joined the Air National Guard on Sept. 11, 2007, as a means to an end.
"Honestly, if I hadn't messed up my freshman year, it never would have happened. I wouldn't have signed up," Bartels said.
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Now, after three years in the Guard, he has an appreciation for his work in Security Forces. It has afforded him the opportunity to make friends, finish school, and play soccer.
Winthrop plays its season-opener at 7 tonight against Brevard College at Eagle Field. Bartels, a junior midfielder/forward, started each of the team's three exhibition games and figures to be an important part of the Eagles success this season.
The Guard understands Bartels is a college athlete, allowing him to work around his school schedule. Instead of one weekend a month and two weeks a year, he works most of the summer and over Christmas break. He said he could work out of Charlotte but he prefers to go home to work with the guys he has gotten to know.
He was told this summer that he would be part of the security team overseeing the loading and unloading of a C-5 transport plane overseas. For security reasons, he said, he can't say exactly where his unit was deployed.
Bartels' Winthrop soccer career itself has been an adventure.
With his academic situation rectified, Bartels returned to the field to start the 2008 season. In his first game, he tweaked his knee but played through some discomfort. He went on to score his first career goal but his knee became more of a problem.
As fate would have it, Bartels suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the game. He had surgery on June 3, 2009 and missed all of last season.
Bartels is fully recovered and rehabbed. His feet are firmly on the ground and his head is on straight. The Eagles are one of the youngest teams in the country this year. They lost six starters from a year ago. Bartels is in a position to make his mark.
Brevard College is an NCAA Division II institution out of Brevard, N.C. The Tornados are coming of a 1-18 season. They faced the Eagles in 2009 and Winthrop came away with a 4-1 win. The season before, Winthrop and Brevard went to overtime and it took a Said Abdi goal in the 108th minute to give the Eagles a win.