Phelps chooses Mt. Olive

Published 10:45 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

AHOSKIE – The All-Roanoke Chowan Player of the Year in soccer has committed to Mt. Olive College.

Ridgecroft School Senior Ethan Phelps chose Mt. Olive after over Lenoir-Rhyne College after several months of decision-making.

“They have a good soccer program and it’s closer to home,” Phelps said of Mt. Olive College.

Phelps spent five years as the starting goal keeper for the Ridgecroft soccer program, twice earning All-State honors and three times being named All-Coastal Plains Independent Conference.

“When you have a student-athlete who has started in goal – which is your last line of defense – for five years, I think I’ve been spoiled,” said Ridgecroft Head Coach Aron Martin. “It has been one of the positions I haven’t had to worry about for the past five seasons.”

During his career, Phelps was twice named All-State by the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association as well as being twice selected as a member of the All-Coastal Plain Independent Conference team. In addition, he was chosen as a member of the All-Region team after his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

He was named All-Roanoke-Chowan Player of the Year by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald at the end of his senior season.

All of those honors came despite the fact that he never played the game until he was a seventh grader at Ridgecroft.

“I never imagined I would be going to college to play,” he said. “I just wanted to try it because it was something different.”

After his seventh grade season on the Junior Varsity squad, Phelps was noticed by several varsity players who asked Martin to allow Phelps to move up the top squad. Martin obliged and Phelps remained in goal for the next five seasons.

“I knew I liked soccer, but I figured I had the opportunity to do well during practice before my eighth grade year,” Phelps said. “All of the upper classmen wanted me to play with them because they thought I was doing well.”

Phelps said he had learned a lot from Martin and from the camps he has attended in his prep career including those held at Duke University and Campbell University as well as the Golden Touch Soccer Camp.

Those honors and his work ethic led to Phelps having multiple opportunities to play college soccer. His eventual choice was to play for the Trojans, where he’ll have an opportunity to earn playing time early.

“The coach said there is no starting goal keeper that whoever works hardest and gives the best effort will have the chance to play,” Phelps said. “He told me that realistically I should get a chance to start as a sophomore.”

Martin said he believes Phelps will offer a lot to the Mt. Olive program.

“I think he will take with him a base of very important keeper skills that he has honed as a starting keeper here,” Martin said. “Ethan is also battle-tested in big games and at the next level, they will expect him to perform on a big stage and he’ll be ready.

“I also think Ethan takes an open mind and is willing to learn and put in time to get better,” Martin added.

Phelps said he would miss his time at Ridgecroft and felt he would always remember his time on the soccer team.

“I think I’ll remember my time at Ridgecroft the rest of my life,” Phelps said. “I will remember my times with my teammates and how much better the program has gotten.”

Martin said the program would also remember Phelps.

“As much as we will miss Ethan on the pitch as a performer and leader, he will be missed equally for his accomplishments in the classroom and the caliber of young man he is,” Martin said. “We can look to fill his position, but he will never be replaced.”

Phelps is the son of Debbie and Dale Phelps of Ahoskie.