Unexpected success can sometimes be the best kind.
Charlie Lyon didn’t know what awaited him in the classroom or on the soccer field when he graduated from St. Charles East High School and left for Marquette University. But in four years there, all that’s happened is unprecedented success for the Golden Eagles soccer team and academic success for Lyon so great it earned him the title of Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year.
“I really had no idea what was ahead of me here at Marquette, what it was like,” said Lyon, a goalkeeper. “When I came in the team was struggling. But the group of guys I came in with, many of whom just graduated, and the guys who came in after, we all came in with a vision of what we wanted to do along with the coaching staff. I definitely knew that it was all possible, I just didn’t know how we would get there.
“It’s been really neat to have that come to fruition through these last couple seasons.”
Marquette won its first Big East Men’s Soccer Tournament title in November, this after its second share of a regular-season championship in the past three seasons – the only two the Golden Eagles have won since joining the Big East in 2005. Lyon was a smaller part of the share-winning 2011 team, playing in four games. This past season, however, was his second as the team’s starting goalkeeper, and he was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Year and landed on the All-Big East First Team.
“It’s easy to come into a place and say that you’re going to do something,” Lyon said. “But then for us to be able to do some of the things that we’ve talked about, that’s pretty special to restore the program to the level we want it to be at.”
But the soccer field wasn’t the only place Lyon faced the unknown when he entered college. Despite posting nothing but A’s (OK, there was one B his freshman year) at East, Lyon wasn’t necessarily expecting to replicate it at Marquette. And a major with the intimidating name of biomedical studies – “To say I have free time would be a lie,” Lyon said – wasn’t going to help.
But the Big East announced in April that Lyon was the Scholar Athlete of the Year, the first Marquette athlete, male or female, to earn that distinction. He was also an Academic All-America selection at the close of this past season with a 3.856 grade point average.
“When I originally came into school, I didn’t see myself as a straight-A student,” Lyon said. “I knew I was a good student, but once I kind of got going freshman year, I realized what standards I could have and I’ve tried to hold those standards each year and work hard.
“In the process, being able to bring the school recognition for the academics here is really pretty awesome, as well, to have that in addition to sports. I’ve been trying to hold myself to a high standard, and I’ve been glad that I’ve been able to do that.”
• Vinnie Duber writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest a column idea about a local athlete competing in college, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.