Adrian Becannon and Peyton Babcock made history for the Chanute Blue Comets last spring.
With Chanute High School embarking on its inaugural soccer season in 2018, the former Chanute players became the first soccer students-athletes to earn the Neosho County Presidential Scholarship with the Neosho County Community College Panthers, and play with the soccer team.
The scholarship is based on academic merit, and students need to earn at least a 3.0 GPA. Becannon earned a 3.4 GPA at CHS.
Becannon, 18, helped his team to a 7-8-1 record, a playoff appearance and a third place finish in a Coffeyville tournament in 2018. With the season culminating in this manner and Becannon developing his soccer talents most of his life, the Wichita native said he was proud of his achievement.
“It felt good knowing that all the work that I put in went into something, it just wasn’t wasted,” Becannon said.
While Becannon didn’t win any awards last season for playing soccer, the four-year Chanute High School student did feel good that he could help another teammate during the season — an endearing quality that highlights a person who can work well with others and an ability to lead a person to a common goal, which is a must not just in college, but in any professional environment a person may venture in to.
Last year, Becannon said he helped Blue Comet defender Michael Aylward, who decided to play soccer in an effort to stay in shape for the then-upcoming basketball season. The task for Becannon to get Aylward to do: strike a header off of a corner kick to ultimately score a goal for his team.
After much encouragement from Becannon and the other Blue Comets, Aylward was finally able to accomplish a header off of a corner kick that led to a goal. The feat happened versus El Dorado in Chanute in late October 2018, and the pass happened to be assisted from Becannon.
All of Becannon’s experience in soccer has led him to becoming a great teammate.
Becannon started playing soccer at 7 years of age. He went on to participate on a traveling team for the Little Comets in middle school. A few years later, he played in a seven-on-seven league in Lawrence, before becoming a Blue Comet for CHS during the inaugural soccer season.
Panthers soccer head coach Rafael Simmons took note of his high school progress, and said he can use this experience and skill for his Panthers.
“Adrian is a good player technically; he still has a lot of room to improve,” Simmons said. “But he’s actually impressed me with the level of technical ability that he has compared to what I had expected to see. He plays as a midfielder. It really depends how he develops from now until the end of the month when we start playing our games. He will probably be a guy coming off the bench, get some minutes here and there. I think he has a lot of potential to grow.”
For Babcock, who also played soccer for most of his life, his experiences and his mindfulness of doing extremely well academically led to earning two scholarships: the Neosho County Presidential Scholarship as well as an academic scholarship. Babcock, 18, is currently on an academic scholarship for NCCC.
Babcock said he savored the moment he earned the scholarship and is looking forward to having an opportunity to play for the Panthers.
“I’m excited; I get to do something I love to do and get to be around a really good group of guys,” Babcock said.
The Thayer native is also still excited about one of his signature moments from 2018.
In early September, Babcock killed two birds with one stone: he participated in cross country and soccer on the same day. First, Babcock achieved his best time ever in a 5K race in a Pittsburg meet with a time of 17 minutes flat.
Babcock then drove back to Chanute for a soccer game against Coffeyville, a game in which the Blue Comets would ultimately lose.
Commitment and dedication helped, and these attributes started early for Babcock, as the now-NCCC soccer player started playing in a Chanute travel league team in just the third grade.
He worked his way up on every level, before college coaches were taking note.
Simmons said Babcock has raw athleticism.
“Peyton is a little less technical, but probably a little more athletic,” Simmons commented. “He did cross country in high school so his endurance is really good. He’s in the same boat, someone who will come off the bench depending on how much he will develop and improve, the opportunity will be there.”
Simmons will see how his two new freshmen will fare in the first official soccer game of the year Aug. 22 versus Rich Mountain.