By Kevin Key
The life of a student-athlete is an uncommon one at the University of Dallas. These men and women are kept busy with their studies and sports during most of the year, and this takes them away from the general mass of students at UD. However, these student-athletes are an integral part of what makes UD so special. On the men’s soccer team, James Bernard is a senior captain starting at center defense. He has been playing for UD since his freshman year. This economics and math double major is a great example of a Crusader student-athlete. I recently had the chance to sit down with him and talk about soccer, studying and the student-athlete life at UD.
KK: How old were you when you started playing soccer, and when did you really decide to commit to it enough to play in college?
JB: I started playing soccer when I was six years old, in a recreational league, before moving to a more competitive league at age 10. I knew by freshman year of high school that I wanted to go to an academically strong school but also one where I could play soccer for more than a club team.
KK: What is the mindset you take in order to be the best player you can be?
JB: I love to win. I will consistently try to do anything I can to help the team win.
KK: How do you handle balancing school, soccer and a social life?
JB: I try to take some easier classes in the fall during season to lessen the academic load, but social life is just choosing to make myself available to friends when not on the road.
KK: Do you enjoy playing defense, or is there another position that you would prefer to play?
JB: I love playing center back, and it’s where I feel most at home. Also, it’s my best position for myself and for the team to put us in a position to win.
KK: What has been your favorite part of being a NCAA athlete?
JB: Being part of the UD soccer team and bonding with my teammates on and off the field is awesome. Going to the conference tournament my sophomore year was also very cool.
KK: Do you have any advice to anyone who would like to be a District III student athlete at UD?
JB: Stay on top of classes and commit to being a part of the team and whatever role you have. This is your last chance to play the sport you love at such a competitive level, so go for it. You will have no regrets later in life because you [played] sports in college.
After he graduates, Bernard will surely be missed as a force on and off the soccer field at UD. But he is not the only senior who will be missed. Mark your calendars for Senior Day, Nov. 1, when the Crusaders will take on Austin College. Bernard will be joined by fellow seniors Matt Wise, Nathan Nweaze, Mikhail Castillo, Patrick Fanizza, Juan Hernandez-Reyes and Aaron Hegemann in their last home game wearing UD jerseys.