By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
Madison Central soccer standouts Sean Livingston and Evan Roberts have been teammates for years, but soon they will be competing against each other on the field.
Both athletes signed their national letters of intent Friday to play college soccer next season for teams in the Appalachian Athletic Conference — Livingston with Tennessee Wesleyan and Roberts with Union College.
Both were two-year starters for former Central coach Jeremy Anderson, Roberts a midfielder and Livingston a center back on defense.
Roberts, will be reunited with former Indians teammates Dawson Marcum and Jordan Johnson In Barborville when he suits up for the Bulldogs.
That was one of the things that attracted him to the Union program, Roberts said, but in the end it was the comfort level he felt while visiting the school that won him over.
“Union has a great program and I have former players down there that always speak well of the program and the head coach and the coaching staff, so that was a plus,” Roberts said. “But I decided to go to Union because I felt like it was the better school. They also offered me the better scholarship. I watched them play Tennessee Wesleyan and then went on two other visits and got to train with the team twice. I visited two other schools, but I knew Union was the place for me.”
Livingston said he looked at three other schools before choosing Tennessee Wesleyan, but said the Bulldogs were always the front-runner.
“I had Union and some other schools interested in me, but Wesleyan was definitely my first choice because they showed the most interest in me and it is definitely the best program of them all,” Livingston said. “Plus they gave me the most scholarship money. It is a nice program that is the right distance away — not too close and not too far away so my family can still see me play.”
Anderson said he is excited the two chose to play soccer in the NAIA because of its history and style of physical play, and he’s confident they will both become very good players for their respective teams.
“I’m excited for both of them because I know that conference has a lot of good teams and how physical it is. NAIA soccer as a whole is tougher than NCAA Division I soccer, but I just know they will excel,” Anderson said. “They are taking a big step up in competition but I have confidence both will step up and play very well. Both are very physical when they want to be, they are both smart, especially defensively with Sean and just creativity with Evan.”
Anderson also said having players like Livingston and Roberts going on to play at the collegiate level shows younger players that with hard work they too can go to college and play.
“Hopefully their signings will spread to the rest of the team and serve as inspiration for them. I don’t think Evan or Sean last year even had a second thought about playing collegiately and seeing Dawson and J.J. do it gave them a little bit of inspiration,” he said “We have some players coming up the next couple of years who will be looking to sign also and this only spurs them on. It is a real boost to the program.”