Posted January 22 | Updated January 26
Senior midfielder Ben Sippola was huddled around his kitchen table with friends last Tuesday when his father called and told him the news.
“He told me, ‘You’re going to the Columbus Crew.’” Sippola said. “I was so excited.”
The Columbus Crew chose Sippola, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, as their first pick in the supplemental portion of the MLS Draft, the 30th overall pick.
Weeks earlier, Sippola attended the MLS combine, an invitation-only tryout.
It’s easy to see why Sippola attracted attention from MLS squads.
During his four years at Butler, the Bulldogs compiled a 52-14-13 record and won two regular season Horizon League championships.
This year was especially memorable for Sippola.
He led the Bulldogs to an unbeaten regular season, a Horizon League regular season and tournament championship, an NCAA Tournament berth and the nation’s No. 5 ranking.
“I’ve worked very hard to get this opportunity,” Sippola said. “Playing at such a high level has always been a goal of mine and I’m really excited to go out there and chase my dream.”
Former Butler head coach Kelly Findley, who accepted the the North Carolina State head coaching job last month, saw Sippola demonstrate an incredible work ethic over the past four seasons.
“Ben was the hardest working player I have ever coached,” Findley said. “He is a leader in every sense: by example, by attitude and by encouraging others and making them better.”
The Columbus Crew roster lists Sippola as both a midfielder and defender. Sippola, who played primarily as a midfielder at Butler, said he is excited about the opportunity.
“A lot of coaches think that my best position is right defender,” Sippola said. “I’ve played that position a lot in my life, so it’s going to be a slight adjustment but I’m pretty comfortable back there.
“One of my strengths is my versatility and being able to play multiple positions is going to be a big asset for me at the professional ranks.”
Former Butler assistant coach David Costa doesn’t think the shift will be a problem for Sippola.
“He’s a great defender and reads the game incredibly well,” Costa said. “He is definitely an MLS caliber player and will be able to make the transition seamlessly.”
Sippola excelled both on and off the field. This season, he was the first player in Butler men’s soccer history to earn both first team All-America and first team Academic All-America honors.
Thanks to the cooperation of his professors, Sippola, an English literature major, will be able to finish his education via independent study even while playing with the Crew.
“My professors have been so helpful and understanding,” Sippola said. “To be able to chase my dream and earn my degree, it’s really a win-win.”