Pearson gets second chance with Barton College
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 29, 2010 11:54 PM
The injury nearly zapped Tucker Pearson's passion for soccer.
The 5-foot-10 forward collided with another player during his junior season and the kneecap in his right leg broke in half. Pearson underwent successful surgery to remove the chipped portion of the cap, but returned to the hospital with a staph infection.
Pearson's focus on soccer shrunk considerably.
No spring travel ball.
No chance to play for college scouts.
"When I got the staph infection, I wondered if was going to be able to do anything again," said Pearson. "I hated it. I could barely walk and couldn't put pressure on my knee. I had to walk on my tip-toes a lot."
Pearson and his brother, Tyson, transferred from Charles B. Aycock to Wayne Country Day during the summer. Tyson worked out regularly with an Under-17 team in Wilson coached by Barton's Matt Akins.
Tucker joined in the workouts and drew attention from Akins. The two talked and Pearson's once-dwindling hopes of playing college soccer flickered brightly again.
Akins scouted Pearson during a couple of fall matches, and continued to stay in touch. Through different modes of communication, Akins' character impressed Pearson, who eventually signed a national letter-of-intent to play at Barton next fall.
"I do feel fortunate," said Pearson. "I didn't want to give up soccer."
But Pearson sacrificed his goal-scoring ability for the Chargers.
Teammate Blake Marchese suffered an injury and head coach Michael Taylor needed a solid stopper on defense. Pearson volunteered to fill the void, and emerged an all-conference performer at the position.
"We could always score, but we couldn't stop people from scoring and that was our problem ... one reason we weren't doing as well." said Pearson.
Pearson helped lead WCDS to an appearance in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A final four. He suffered a second-half ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines, and the Chargers endured a season-ending loss to Faith Christian of Rocky Mount.
During his four-year career, Pearson helped lead Aycock and WCDS to a combined 70 victories and playoff appearances each season. He finished his career with 40 goals and 41 assists, and earned all-conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior.
"He was the heart and soul of our defense, and it was his leadership and his coaching ability on the field that kept the defense in line," said Taylor. "He knew it was not about him, and (he) wanted to help our team get better and get to the championship."
Pearson joins a Barton program that has struggled since 2007. The Dogs are 13-42-2 overall during that stretch, including a 3-25-2 worksheet against conference opposition.
"I'm not really sure exactly where he's (Akins) going to put me (on the field)," said Pearson, who plans to pursue a degree in either criminal justice or the athletic training field.
"I know I have to hit the weight room because they're going to be bigger than me, and will probably push me around. I need to get touches every day on the ball, stay fresh and work on shooting accuracy."