Geneva alumnus Shawn Sloan initially aspired to medical school after graduating early from High Point (N.C.) University last month.
In a few weeks, Sloan could be dissecting Major League Soccer defenses instead.
On Tuesday, the Columbus Crew selected the midfielder as part of a three-player haul in the MLS supplemental draft. Sloan, who now lives with his family outside Detroit, is scheduled to depart for Bradenton, Fla., today for the first phase of the Crew’s month-long preseason training camp, intent on “proving a little more” to further his playing career.
“It’s hard enough being at a small school getting on someone’s radar, so I know how it feels being an underdog. I was a late draft pick and I kind of have that mindset going in,” Sloan said. “I feel like I’ve done it once and I feel like I’m someone who plays to the level of my teammates. ... I’m just excited to have a chance to keep that going.”
Sloan earned first-team All- Big South Conference honors in each of his collegiate seasons, beginning in 2009, when he was named the league’s freshman of the year. He finished his career with 24 goals and 27 assists while playing in the shadows of larger nearby programs such as North Carolina and North Carolina State.
Sloan also was honored as the Big South scholar athlete of the year in 2011 and 2012 and carried a 4.0 grade-point average while majoring in biochemistry. To that end, he was intent on medical school until something gripped him as his final season with the Panthers wound down in November.
“You never think you’re there on the day where you say, ‘Oh, man, my competitive career is over. My soccer career is over.’ ” Sloan said. “I kind of just sat there after my senior season at High Point and was like, ‘I can do more. I can push myself to do it.’ So that’s when it happened. I knew if I didn’t try, I would regret it.”
After consulting his college coaches, Sloan hired an agent. Although he was not invited to the MLS’ overall draft combine, several teams brought him in for individual pre-draft workouts in recent weeks. Columbus was not among that group.
“I had no idea I was on the Crew’s radar,” Sloan said.
MLS held its SuperDraft on Jan. 17, which entailed two rounds of selections from the league’s 19 clubs. Five days later, the draft continued with four supplemental rounds. The Crew picked Sloan as he tracked the MLS website and Twitter for possible news of any selection.
Parents Jeff and Jannell Sloan, both former High Point athletes, shared in the elation soon after. Shawn Sloan knows he is not assured of a roster spot, but is steeled with the knowledge that several supplemental picks have landed on MLS teams in recent seasons.
In fact, Sloan and older brother Steve have encountered some of them, either in college or on past club teams.
The Crew begin their season March 2, and Sloan gathers the team could see a boost to its Chicagoland fan base if he makes the cut. Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook compares Sloan’s potential path to that of former Vikings football player Pat Schiller, a one-time Northern Illinois linebacker who went undrafted in the NFL before landing on the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad this season.
“Sometimes it’s nice to fly a little bit under the radar and then you can walk into a nice situation,” Estabrook said.
Sloan doesn’t disagree. He’s ready to seize his chance.