For many college students starting school as freshmen, one of the biggest advantages is being able to get away from their hometown.
For two players on Virginia Tech’s men’s soccer team, the opposite has occurred.
Senior midfielder Albert Alwang and junior defenseman Jeremy Williams have lived the majority of their lives in the town of Blacksburg. Both were also fortunate enough to excel at soccer and now play for their hometown Hokies. They have been playing with each other for more than 10 years.
Alwang and Williams played soccer for local powerhouse Blacksburg High School. During their time as Bruins, the team won state titles in 2005 and 2007.
The 2007 season brought 23 wins to the program, which is tied for second-highest win total in the state of Virginia.
That same season, Alwang was a senior at BHS and experienced one of the best seasons anyone could have according to Blacksburg head coach Shelley Blumenthal.
“His senior year he had one of the best years of any player we’ve ever had,” Blumenthal said. “He was the state AA Player of the Year and the Player of the Year from the Roanoke Times. He just had a tremendous season.”
During that 2007 season, Alwang and Williams played alongside each other as center backs.
“Albert was more of the dynamic player, and Jeremy was the steady influence,” Blumenthal said.
After his senior season, Alwang left Blacksburg for a year to play at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. After playing there for two years, Alwang returned to Blacksburg to play for the Hokies.
Alwang said there were many reasons for leaving UNC-Wilmington, including both soccer and academics.
“At the time I thought UNC-Wilmington was the best fit for me, but as I grew through that first year there I realized it wasn’t that great of a fit,” Alwang said. “I knew academics fit well at Tech and the soccer team fit so I just decided to come back (to Blacksburg).”
Williams began his soccer career in Blacksburg at a very young age. He was even a ball boy as a sixth-grader for the Bruins.
“There’s a lot of tradition in our soccer program and kids want to be a part of it,” Blumenthal said. “Kids start as ball boys. Jeremy was a ball boy in sixth grade.”
Williams was a four-year varsity starter at BHS, where Blumenthal said he excelled on the field as a silent leader.
“He’s like a coach on the field in a lot of ways,” Blumenthal said. “He’s not overly vocal, but when he says something it really means something.”
Williams said the decision to play soccer at Tech was more difficult than he anticipated.
“I wanted to get out,” Williams said. “But I realized with the school’s academics and everything, the main perk just happened to be in my backyard, so that was pretty cool.”