Brandon Ashdown will join his Liberty County High School soccer teammate Robbie Bacon at the University of South Carolina–Salkehatchie this fall after signing a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play soccer.
“I’m very nervous, but it’s pretty fun and I’m very excited. I wanted to go out of state for college and I love soccer,” Ashdown said after penning his name to become an Indian.
Ashdown’s mother, Jane Nadolski, said her son started playing soccer for the Liberty County Recreation Department when he was just 4 years old. She said it was a bittersweet moment knowing he is getting a chance to play in college but also leaving home.
“I’m sad. I’m excited for him because it’s an adventure for him but it’s also sad,” she said. “He is the first one leaving to go to college. I’m excited and very proud.”
Ashdown will study computer information systems and said he likely will play as a goalkeeper.
“I’ve been playing as a goalkeeper for about 14 years now and I put all my effort into it all 14 years and it paid off,” he said. “It’s a very mental and physical game but I’m going to keep on top of my game.”
Ashdown said he plans to be ready for the season and currently runs five miles a day and keeps to his workout schedule.
His grandfather, Walter Nadolski, said it was an opportunity that almost didn’t happen.
“I was glad to see it happen … at first it wasn’t going to happen because he was planning on going into the military,” he said. “It’s great to get a scholarship because times are kind of hard, especially for a single mother. Getting a full scholarship is pretty good … and getting to play something you enjoy.”
Panthers soccer coach Bryant Durham said it is a great opportunity for Ashdown to play in college, learn more aspects of the game and possibly transfer to another institution in the future. He said establishing relationships with USC-S and Indians soccer coach William Glass may open more opportunities for future Panthers.
“I think it is shedding a light on the quality of the players we have coming through our system the last four or five years,” he said. “We’ve done a good job and made great improvements through developing the camaraderie among themselves, working with each other. Of course there are going to be some players that get more playing time, but it’s an attribute to everybody that is involved because it is a reflection of everybody helping each other succeed.”
Ashdown is scheduled to report to USC-S on Aug. 1 for offseason training and participate in the Indians’ exhibition game Aug. 12.
He said having his teammate there helps settle the nerves.
“It makes me a little less nervous and know that I can count on him when I need him when we are out on the field,” he said about playing on the same team as Bacon.
Ashdown’s mom said her son is very bright and knows what is expected of him as he goes off to college.
“(The) best advice I can give to him is to go learn something and have fun,” she said.
Mom plans to attend as many home games as possible, saying she never missed one of his games to date.
Ashdown said his sister, Lady Panthers soccer player Jenna Rountree, really encouraged him throughout the years.
“She’s pushed me all these years and I really love her,” he said.
Ashdown’s grandmother, Thaea Nadolski, summed it up by saying, “He has a lot to be proud of.”