Wednesday, Koon made one of his childhood dreams come true when he signed a scholarship to continue his education and play soccer with the Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs.
“It’s the next level for me. I have always wanted, since I was little, to go play college soccer. I started playing when I was four years old and I haven’t stopped,” Koon said. “Tennessee Wesleyan is making it happen for me.”
Cleveland coach John Brose said Koon has all the tools necessary to slide right onto the field at TWC and become as valuable to the Bulldogs as he has to the Blue Raiders. The Cleveland forward’s natural ability combined with his field vision will only get better as time goes along and he transitions to the speed of the college game.
“He takes a lot with him. He works hard. On the field Garrett really knows no gear but fifth gear. He is always going as hard as he can. He has great technical skill. He is really comfortable with the ball on his feet. He sees the game pretty well. I think he will have a good transition to the next level,” said Brose. “Overall, he is a pretty strong and aggressive player. Obviously, when you step up to the college level it’s a bit faster and stronger. But I think he is already well suited in that regard for Wesleyan. Hopefully, he can kind of make an immediate impact for them.”
Koon said he feels it will take a bit of time to work his way into the starting lineup at Wesleyan but he feels the time will definitely come when he can contribute on a regular basis no matter where he is assigned.
“I hope to make an immediate impact. But I think as a freshman I am going to have to learn the ropes a little bit and work my way in. But you never know,” he stated. “The practices I have been to I played a little outside midfielder whereas I am playing forward in high school. I’m looking to play either one of those positions.”
The Cleveland senior has already run with the ’Dogs a time or two in practice and has seen the talent put on the field by head coach Stephen Lyons. Koon will see some familiar faces in Athens and will get to know everyone as time goes along.
“I’ve played with a couple of guys in high school that are there. But there is still some getting to know people,” he said.
For Brose, the loss of another standout player has become a routine occurrence. Koon’s departure will leave a gap to be filled on the Raiders’ roster. On the other hand, Brose said he will be able to keep close tabs on his former since he will still be in the area.
“We are very proud of him. We are glad he has been given the opportunity to continue his career through college. He is certainly capable of doing so. He has been a great player for us over the last four years and has contributed a lot to this soccer program. We are happy for him and his family on this particular day. We are also glad he will remain kind of local as well in terms of going to Athens. Hopefully, we will be able to watch him play over the next couple years.”
College life for the soon to be former Raider will be just the beginning of a world of new experiences. Tennessee Wesleyan is merely the first stop in what should prove to be a long and rewarding career for Koon on and off the soccer field.
“I haven’t decided if I want to go into pre-med yet. But I think that is the route I’m taking. I may go on to graduate school at UTK. But right now I’m really excited about playing college soccer and starting the next level of my life,” he said.