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Kettle Run’s Evan Szklennik choses futbol over football, signs with Radford

Friday, Mar. 21 | By Peter Brewington

Kettle Run's Evan Szklennik started receiving football offers but turned them down to honor a previous soccer scholarship commitment with Radford University. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Kettle Run soccer star Evan Szklennik’s grand signing ceremony as a Radford University-bound scholarship athlete was delayed last month due to snow, than delayed again due to an impending storm.

It’ll happen this month or next.

So what else is new? Szklennik previously weathered some twists and turns on his successful road to an NCAA athletic scholarship.

After Szklennik committed to Radford last year, his collegiate athletic future took a mildly confusing and flattering turn when he blossomed as safety on the Cougars’ football team last fall.

He picked off a school-record 10 passes and finished with a school record 19, and earned numerous post-season honors, including Conference 27 Defensive Player of the Year. He also shined as a placekicker.

Two NCAA Division II football programs, Shepherd (W.Va.) University and the UVA.-Wise, offered him half scholarships. Some FCS teams, or old Division I-AA, also expressed interest.

“It got me thinking a little bit. It’s crazy to me,” he said. “It was a hard process, it was such a blast I didn’t want it out of my life,” he said of football.

To turn his back on a D-I soccer scholarship from a school that had been so loyal to him seemed foolish – but Szklennik was a speedy, athletic safety with great instincts and owed it to himself to evaluate the offers. “I did not have much time to think about it,” he said of the football offers, which flowed after the season ended in November. “I verbally committed to Radford. I could have de-committed, but I did not want to de-commit,” Szklennik said.

He said William & Mary and the University of Richmond offered preferred walk-on status in football. “I thought it would be long and hard,” he said of that route, which might have led to a eventual scholarship.

In the end, the Cougars forward will stick to what he does best, which is score goals.

Since Radford is offering him a generous 80 percent scholarship — most NCAA programs divide up the 9.9 scholarships into various partial offers – Szklennik thinks he will likely get on the field for Radford this coming fall.

Radford finished 9-7-4 in 2013, placing fifth in the Big South Conference behind powerhouse Coastal Carolina.

After exploding for 28 goals as a KRHS sophomore, Szklennik played just five games last year after receiving an activities suspension for an incident he regrets.

He apologized to his team and Radford soccer coaches. He said it was a wakeup call that put his soccer scholarship in jeopardy.

“I’m so lucky Radford stuck with me. I confronted them about it and they were not too happy. Everyone makes mistakes, they stuck with me,” he said.

He said he wanted to go to games to support the Cougars soccer team, which continued to excel, but was restricted.

“My activities suspension was like 45 days. It ended the first round of the regionals. I hate thinking about it. I wished I could help the team. I paid the price for my mistakes and ready to own up to it,” said Szklennik.

Szklennik’s soccer prowess is well-known.

He scored six goals as a freshman at Osbourn Park. After transferring to Kettle Run, he fired home 28 in 2012 and nine last year putting him in sight of Reid Turnure's school record.

During football season, Szklennik would continue practicing soccer, attending practices with his travel team, Loudoun 95 Red, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday in Leesburg.

With football out of his life, he’s ready to focus on soccer.

He says the Cougars will be strong with the arrival of freshman Kevin Coleman, a member of the Under-17 U.S. National Team, and the brother of former KRHS star Tim Coleman.

“He’s crazy fast and quick. Oh, my gosh, he’s nothing but special,” said Szklennik, who has had people say those things about his abilities in two sports.

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