Genesee Community College's men's soccer team's Ben Wattis will be taking his soccer skills to Hawaii Pacific University next season after signing a letter of commitment.
National Collegiate Athletic Association Division-II head men's soccer coach Chris Fisher had nothing but praise for his newest acquisition, "Hawaii Pacific University men's soccer is pleased to have Ben join us. He will bring stability and experience to our back line; he has a winning mentality and comes from a championship program. We expect Ben to make an immediate impact on our team."
That contribution may be even larger than Sharks coach Fisher imagined as Wattis was recently recognized for other intangibles. Wattis received the GCC Men's Soccer's Cougar Player Award last week at the athletics department's annual banquet for making the most significant contributions to the program with those contributions going beyond the playing field.
While defensive players aren't accustomed to getting the same notoriety as their offensive counterparts because the majority of individual statistics revolve around the offense, team statistics can put Wattis' on-field contributions in better perspective as he was part of a Cougar backline that led the nation in average goals-allowed-per-game at 0.72 at the junior-college division-three level.
It was that kind of defensive perseverance combined with an opportunistic offense that helped the Cougars win the National Junior College Athletic Association Men's Soccer Division-III national title last season that ended with an 11-game winning streak and 20-game unbeaten string.
Wattis was a big part of the team's success and was recognized as a two-time all-American for his efforts. The Cougar sophomore garnered those honors at both the NJCAA-level, as well as with the United Soccer Coaches, who honored him at their national banquet a few months back in Philadelphia, Pa.
Although a defender, Wattis finished in the team's top-10 in all three offensive categories with five goals, four assists, and 14 points. The backliner scored five goals off six shots on net for the season with no goal being bigger than his tally in the national championship semifinal game.
There will likely be no other Cougar athlete traveling farther from Batavia to play next season with Honolulu being about 4,700 miles away; although GCC softball star Shiori Ubukata will be traveling about 4,650 miles to Hilo with both Hawaiian colleges competing in the NCAA Division-II Pacific West Conference. The distance from Wattis' hometown of Langley, UK to Hawaii Pacific University is about 7,300 miles.