Nason gets a leg up

It started last summer with Ben Nason (Colonial Forge ’03) expressing to Virginia Tech head men’s soccer coach Oliver Weiss he was tired of playing high school soccer.

To Nason, it was a comment made in passing. But to Weiss, it was an opportunity worth looking into.

He had already secured a commitment from Nason, but with this sudden admission, Weiss knew there was a good possibility that Nason could in fact get a head start on his college playing career.

The NCAA allows high school students to enroll in college early if they meet graduation requirements. It’s not a commonly seen move, but it’s not unusual either. Familiar with the process, Weiss passed the information to Nason, who in turn, acted on it.

He left Colonial Forge in early September, enrolled in a program called Turning Point in Stafford County, took the two courses he needed to graduate and enrolled in Virginia Tech last month.

“We talked to him about social issues, things he would miss by giving up his senior year of high school, things that you enjoy like the prom,” Weiss said.

But Nason was ready to move to the next level. Soccer had run its course where he was at. Plus, he was academically fine, (4.2 grade point average, 1,360 SAT’s) and the Hokies had made him a good scholarship offer.

“Playing with my club team, I never had much of a social life and I never got into high school educationally-wise. I didn’t enjoy it,” said Nason, who will return in June to graduate with his class. “I also wasn’t a fan of high school soccer. There was too much of an opportunity to get hurt.”

Nason had injured his back during the 2002 high school season and the fear of doing it again is what sparked his initial comment to Weiss.

A three-time all-Commonwealth District selection and a 2002 all-Northwest Region midfielder at Colonial Forge, Nason received interest from more traditionally successful Division I college soccer programs than Virginia Tech, among them Duke, 2001 national champion North Carolina, William & Mary and James Madison.

But Tech was his first choice. When he was able to commit after July 1, he didn’t hesitate.

“I had college coaches calling me, wondering what happened, why they weren’t given a chance?” Weiss said. “I was surprised he committed so early, but that’s what he wanted to do. We certainly didn’t pressure him.”

Besides Virginia Tech’s offer, Nason felt like he could step in and help the Hokies right away. He also liked Weiss, a former assistant at North Carolina and William & Mary, who had been hired as Virginia Tech’s new head coach in February of 2002.

“He was so enthusiastic about getting things going,” Nason said. “I wanted to go to a place where I could make an impact rather than be a last-ditch option.”

Nason’s decision to leave Colonial Forge early caught the school’s boys soccer coach Gary Gottschalk off-guard. Gottschalk, who even had Nason first period for a class, didn’t know that Nason had left until he heard it second-hand.

“I wish things had been handled in a different way,” said Gottschalk, who has since spoken with Nason. “I’m not sure why he didn’t walk up to me and say it. I hope he’s made the right decision.”

Nason said he wanted to inform Gottschalk of his decision.

“I didn’t want to tell him something that might happen or might not happen until it was set in stone,” Nason said. “I never really had the chance. It wasn’t intentional. I was there one day, and the next I was gone. In between, friends of mine had already told him. I don’t want there to be any ill-will toward anybody.”

Nason, 18, said he felt a little out of place his first week at Virginia Tech

“It looked like I was the only one lost and everyone else had been there,” Nason said.

But he’s now feeling more comfortable. His roommate is Dustin Dyer, a transfer from Christopher Newport, and like Nason and three other members of the Hokies’ recruiting class, are products of the Richmond Strikers club program..

“This is a special kid,” Weiss said. “He’s different and marches to his own drummer, but soccer is something that he loves doing and it is something he wants to do at the highest level.”


Elizabeth Belch (Osbourn ’00) won two individual events (50 free and the 200 backstroke) and was a member of three relay teams that set new meet records this past weekend at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships.

Belch, a junior at Randolph-Macon College, joined three of her teammates to win the 200 free relay in 1:40.73, the 800 free in 8:04.45 and the 400 free in 3:40.12.

Christian Lindberg (Woodbridge ’00) was a member of Virginia Tech’s 400-yard relay team that took sixth at the Big East Championships last weekend in a time of 3:01.95.

Meagan Cleary (Woodbridge ’02) had a number of big finishes at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Meet.

The freshman from Indiana University of Pennsylvania was second in the 50 freestyle (24.30) and fifth in the 100 freestyle (53.34). She was also a member of four relay teams that placed among the top eight: the 200 freestyle (third, 1:37.43), the 400 medley (third, 4:02.17), the 200 medley (second, 1:48.61) and the 400 freestyle (seventh, 3:41.13)


Lynchburg College sophomore Mike Lansdowne (Osbourn ’01) was named the Male Athlete of the Meet last weekend at the ODAC Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Virginia Military Institute.

Lansdowne won the 200 and 400-meter dashes and was a member of the Hornets’ winning 1,600-meter relay team. Lynchburg won its sixth straight team title.

Also at the meet, Bridgewater junior Steward White (Gar-Field ’00) won the long jump (21 feet, 5.25 inches) and the triple jump (43 feet, 10.25 inches) and finished fourth in the 55-meter hurdles.

In the women’s competition, freshman Julia Barb (Osbourn ’02) was sixth in the 55 meters and the triple jump.

Duke University senior Donny Fowler (Woodbridge ’99) was third in the 800-meter run (1:54.14) at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Virginia senior Dawn Cleary (Woodbridge ’99) was eighth in the 3,000-meter run in 9:45.00.


Mary Washington College senior Brett Lively (Stafford ’99) became the 12th player in school history to score 1,000 points in his career. The guard reached that milestone Saturday during the Eagles’ 85-65 win over Salisbury. Lively finished with 20 points, including 18 in the second half.

It was his final 3-pointer of the game that pushed over the 1,000-point mark.


Jeff Dagenhart (Osbourn Park ’01) earned his second win of the season Sunday. The William & Mary sophomore pitcher allowed four hits and one run with five strikeouts and three walks over seven innings in the Tribe’s 11-1 win over UMBC.


Dave Kaplan (Woodbridge ’98) finished out his home wrestling career at Old Dominion University Sunday with a 7-3 decision over James Madison’s Josh Fultz in the 165-pound dual-meet match.

Kaplan is in his second season at ODU after transferring from Missouri.


Sean Ebling (Gar-Field ’02) is a member of West Chester University’s (Pa.) Division I Club Team. A freshman defender, Ebling helped the team to an 18-12-2 record

David Fawcett’s They’re In College Now column appears Fridays in the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at (703) 878-8052 or at [email protected]

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