Above photo of Ben Platt playing for Lake Travis provided by Ben Platt
The UMHB men’s soccer program has brought in not one, but two starters from the reigning 6A state champions, Lake Travis High School, as the 2022 season gets set to begin.
Ben Platt is a midfielder who made significant contributions to the Lake Travis program through all four years of his prep career, and has plenty of upside as he makes the transition to the collegiate level. In fact, during his senior year alone, Platt was named the District 26-6A Midfielder of the Year, nominated to the 6A All-State Tournament Team, and a TASCO second-team All-State honoree.
True To The Cru recently caught up with Platt just before his freshman year began, to discuss his commitment to UMHB, making the transition to college with high school teammate Alex Bethke, and his unique experience in the 6A state championship this past spring.
What made UMHB the program that fit you best?
BP: “For me, the recruiting process happened late. I went into my senior year not sure where I was going to end up. I had a tournament in Dallas, and UMHB saw me play there. They really liked what they saw. I went down and visited campus and as soon as I got down there, you could feel the atmosphere. And meeting with Coach Allen, the ability to have the same conversations you’re having over the phone in person is a big thing. I felt very comfortable, and that was one of the biggest things for me.”
With Coach Allen recently taking over as head coach, what kind of impact did he make during the recruiting process?
BP: “Coach Allen was actually the first coach who recruited me. Obviously, I had a lot of conversations with Bankhead. He’s a great guy, and was definitely a huge part of my decision. We’re all happy for Coach Allen to step into the role, and I think it’s going to be a fantastic season. We know he can handle it and the fact that I already get along with him really well is definitely beneficial.”
This past year, you were a starter for the 6A state champions, Lake Travis. What went into forming that championship season?
BP: “Early on, we lost a couple guys who were extremely important to us. We as a team looked at it, and knew we had a lot of returners, and we also had two transfers [who helped a lot]. It was a lot of getting used to each other and developing the chemistry [early on]. Up front, all six of us had been playing together for four years, so we had that chemistry down, but connecting from front to back is one of the biggest things. Getting used to that new back line was difficult, but we kept getting stronger every game.
“During that playoff run, I got an injury in the first round: a grade three high ankle sprain and a grade two low ankle sprain. It took me out early, and I didn’t play in the second or third rounds but was lucky enough to return in the fourth. The guys constantly proved everybody wrong. It was an amazing experience. As soon as that final place kick was saved, all I could feel was just the rush of what we had been working for for so long. The pain you go through to get there finally felt like it was more than worth it.”
What is the most memorable part of that state tournament atmosphere for you and the ensuing victory over Plano, which was decided by penalty kicks?
BP: “We arrived at the stadium and when we got into the locker room, and all you could hear was screaming and cheering. Unfortunately, soccer is not the biggest sport here, so we don’t normally get the big crowds, but both days [of the state tournament] the crowd was huge. It was nerve-racking for sure, but it was a blessing to play in front of that many people and have the outcome we did. In those games that go to extra time, having that many people behind you gives you that extra energy to push hard until the final whistle. I think all the guys could feel that the community was backing us. It was a surreal experience. Especially after that last penalty kick, the roar that came from our crowd was unlike anything I’ve heard before.”
You are headed to Belton with your high school teammate, Alex Bethke. Do you think having him there will help in the transition at all?
BP: “Absolutely. Alex and I became friends our freshman year of high school. That senior class was unbelievably talented all the way through. Just for us, soccer is a huge part of where we form our friendships. We clicked immediately, and even this summer, we’ve been training together almost every day. I’m hoping to be able to take that chemistry to the next level. College is a huge step, and to be able to have someone that I’ve known for so long and is one of my best friends, adds to the comfort of [transitioning to UMHB].”
You had a unique opportunity in high school to work with younger soccer players on a consistent basis. What was that experience like?
BP: “I worked with My Player 2 Player, an organization that allows high school players to connect with younger kids who want to learn the sport from older players. By doing this I hoped to spread my passion of the game to younger players in hope that they gain the same passion I have for the game.”