Meet UW freshman Chris Prince. As a senior at Naperville Central High School in Illinois, Prince was an All-American selection by NSCAA and was named the Player of the Year by the Chicago Sun Times. He holds the record for almost every statistic at Naperville Central, including single-season goals, single-season points, career goals and career points. In 2007, the MLS’ Chicago Fire took notice to Prince by signing him to the U-17/18 squad. As an avid fan of the Fire growing up, Prince couldn’t have dreamt up a more ideal situation.
“It was amazing to be able to play with the Fire and against other MLS teams,” Prince said. “The highlight of my time there was playing in the MLS Cup.”
Joining Prince on the Chicago Fire was friend and now UW teammate, freshman Trevor Wheeler. Prince and Wheeler first met at an Olympic Development Program when they were kids, but their relationship became more than just teammates once they joined the Fire.
“Trevor [Wheeler] and I have known each other since we were ten years old,” Prince said. “We always had a good connection as kids, but we grew to be best friends when we were on the Fire.”
The friendship didn’t stop after their stint with the Fire. When Prince committed to UW-Madison to play soccer, he was adamant about bringing Wheeler with him. Shortly after he signed, Prince’s wish came true as his long-time friend signed with the Badgers. Both have seen success already, especially Prince.
Most true freshman at a Big Ten school take a year to transition from the high school game to the fast-paced college game. However, Prince has shown thus far that he is not phased by the so-called “transition.” This was evident after Prince’s first collegiate soccer tournament, the UC Irvine College Classic. Not only did he start both games, against Santa Clara and UC Irvine, he was named to the All-Tournament Team. Despite all of the early season success individually, Prince admits that he was nervous before his first start as a Badger against Santa Clara.
“I usually don’t get nervous before games, but seeing how much bigger and older everyone else was really made me nervous,” Prince said. “After about twenty minutes I was able to settle down and just play the game how I normally play.”
For someone who has played in four high school regional championships and played against MLS competition, it would be hard to imagine the college game being that much harder. Well, according to Prince, the college game is a whole new level of competition.
“College soccer is played at such a faster pace,” Prince said. “The players are more athletic, bigger and older than anyone I’ve seen playing club soccer.”
When the competition gets tough, it is assumed that the teams’ captains have a duty to lead, but what that what is not always assumed is the fact that they are there to be mentors for the younger guys as well. In some situations, freshmen are alienated or even made to feel like the weak-links, but on the Badgers this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I can go to our captains for anything I need,” Prince said. “I can ask them about anything from classes to soccer. They’re the best captains I’ve ever had.”
The combination of leadership and young talent of this Badger team has everyone excited, including Prince. Expectations are set high for every player early in the season, but none are higher than those of Prince.
“My goal for this season is to score ten times,” Prince said. “I hope I go over that goal, but ten would be good.”
Prince has high expectations for himself as an individual, but don’t be mistaken into thinking that’s all he cares about. According to Prince, his goals as an individual would mean nothing if his team doesn’t succeed.
“As a team, I hope we win the Big Ten Tournament,” Prince said. “This would put us in the NCAA Tournament and anything could happen from there.”
When Prince isn’t playing soccer, he can be found in his dorm room playing XBOX 360, often times playing against Wheeler.
“In my free time, I’m a huge gamer,” Prince said. “I’m obsessed with the new Halo right now.”
Whether he’s playing soccer or playing video games, one thing is for sure; Prince doesn’t like losing.
“I’m competitive at everything I do,” Prince said. “I hate to lose.”