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Wez patrols pitch, campus

September 12, 2010

By Brand Driver, Staff Writer

What do Scotland, South Africa and Young Harris all have in common?  While geography and culture might be very different, they all play the world’s game, and that is what has brought sophomore business major Wezly Barnard to Young Harris College.

Young Harris College men's soccer goalkeeper and captain Wezly Barnard.

Barnard, or “Wez” as he’s known around campus, is a 25-year-old from Johannesburg who has played soccer for nearly his entire life. At home Wez represented his national team when he was 12, and again when he was 17. He also played the sport in high school, where his coach in school was teammates with YHC men’s soccer head coarch Mark McKeever. This connection between McKeever and his high school coach led to Wez’s interest in the small, private Appalachian college.

“It sounded like a great plan to me, coming [to YHC] to play soccer and getting a good education on top of it,” Wez said.

Shortly after his visit to YHC, he was offered a scholarship and made plans to leave his home country. While it might seem tough making a transition from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg to the peace and quiet of lYoung Harris, Wez fits in just perfectly, although he says that “[South Africa] is more of a comfort zone for me, because I have friends and family there.”

McKeever has always spoken highly of Wez both on and off the field. On the field he has appointed Wez captain of the team for this season, and off the field he works with Wez on both soccer and on life.

“Coach has helped me out ,” Wez said. “[He has taught me about] always having respect, believing what you are doing with some kind of desire, and most of all just be[ing] yourself.”

Besides soccer, Wez is also involved on campus as a police cadet, riding in police carts from time to time in the evening and monitoring campus safety.

“It’s nice to interact with students and [being a cadet] gives you respect [for authority],” Wez said. “You are always looking to better the campus [and get] rid of negativity on campus. I like how it makes you look at things from more of a mature aspect.”

After college, Wez has aspirations of playing some sort of professional soccer and maybe going into marketing or events managing. When asked about finishing his degree and his playing career as a Mountain Lion, Wez was optimistic and plans on staying, but given the uncanny circumstances that brought him here in the first place, he could only say that if something were to come up, “I’d have to take a look at it.”

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