Grant Lillard defines what it means to be a Hoosier athlete
Apr. 20, 2016
When asked what it’s like to be part of one of the top- ranked soccer programs in the nation, IU center back Grant Lillard didn’t hesitate to answer.
"The history surrounding the IU soccer program is unparalleled,” Lillard said. “To represent IU soccer is a huge honor."
Lillard is a sophomore from Hinsdell, Ariz., studying finance in the IU Kelley School of Business and preparing to take iCore this summer. Growing up, he played several sports, but soccer was eventually the one that stuck for him. When he got the offer from IU, the choice to accept was a no-brainer, he said.
"You really won’t find a better program with better coaches," he said.
As a freshman coming into such a competitive program, Lillard said it was a bit of a "culture shock." The support from the upperclassmen made the transition from high school to college level much easier.
"I’ve never met a group of guys that I’ve had such absolute trust in," he said. "The leadership is fantastic."
When it is his time as an upperclassman, Lillard said, he hopes to do the same for the incoming players. In fact, he said that’s something he is really excited about.
"I want them to have the same experience I had,” he said. “I want to lead by example and let them know what IU soccer is all about."
While spring is technically the team's off-season, the players are constantly sharpening their skills. They faced off against the Indy 11 last month and will host the Mexican Youth National Team on April 24. Last year, they played the U-17 team, but this year they will battle the U-20 team on Hoosier turf, he said.
"This is the evaluation period for both the players and the coaches,” Lillard said. “Everyone gets a chance and an opportunity to rise to the occasion."
And he is ready to give it his all. Before he graduates, he wants to help the Hoosiers once again win the Big Ten Championship, but his goals don’t stop there. Lillard said he thinks they have a good shot at winning their ninth national championship title. As for after college, Lillard hopes he will have the opportunity to pursue the next level of soccer.
Tickets to the April 24 spring closer game against Mexico are available for advanced purchase online.
Lillard's participation aligns with priorities outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success.