Professional athletes have the stigma of being flashy over-spenders. Butler student-athletes have a reputation for humility.
So what happens when a Butler men’s soccer player is drafted into Major League Soccer?
Ben Sippola, drafted 84th overall by the Columbus Crew, kept his humble roots and bought a used Honda Civic, which he says he got partially for the 40 miles to the gallon.
Sippola gave The Butler Collegian some time to catch up on his life since being drafted.
Collegian: What were your feelings around the time of the draft?
Ben Sippola: That was a pretty anxious time for me, since I had no idea where I was going. I asked myself, “Should I come back to Butler for the start of the second semester?” and “Should I drop out of college and focus solely on soccer?” Fortunately, the academic staff at Butler has been very flexible in working with me, so I was able to stay in college and pursue my dream of playing professional soccer.
C: Once you went to Columbus, what were things like, and did you have any concerns?
BS: At that point, I was going with the flow of being a draftee. I lived in a hotel for nine weeks—that was an experience in itself—but who am I to complain?
It has been an easy transition moving to Columbus because the cities are comparable, and I am a Midwestern guy at heart, so I could not be happier to be playing here. But, I do miss my Butler family, friends, teammates, etc. I’ve been back twice since I was drafted.
C: What were things like trying to make the Crew?
BS: I tried out for three weeks before I was offered a contract. I was nervous the first few practices because I didn’t know what to expect or what the level of play would be like compared to college. There was definitely a level of jitters that I had not felt for a long time, but now I think I’m doing well and rising to the level of the players around me.
C: What has your role been like within the team?
BS: Right now, I’m not in the starting 11, so my role is to work hard and push the other players around me. As a rookie, sometimes that is all you can do. You have to take pride in working hard and not getting much reward for it. I’d love to be playing more, but I couldn’t be happier going to work every day on the soccer field. I am living a dream I’ve had since I was seven years old.
There are some really great guys here. I made a bet with some teammates from UConn [about the outcome of the NCAA Championship Game], and since Butler lost, I had to wash both their cars. But it’s OK, because our basketball team gave me bragging rights for most of the tournament.
C: What have you taken from Butler and applied during your time with the Crew?
BS: Butler has taught me that there is no replacement for hard work. When things are not going your way, you can’t put blame on other people or exterior factors. You just have to hit the field and work hard and hope that it pays off. I think that’s the “Butler Way” when it comes to athletics.
C: What’s on the horizon for you?
BS: When I get some free time, I’ll go on a road trip in my Honda. Also, I desperately need to get my fly fishing fix in. That is one thing you can count on—that I’ll be somewhere near a trout stream until the day I die.