by Scott Harris, Assistant Sports Information Director
Cosby High School, in Midlothian, Virginia, opened its doors during the 2006-07 school year and its first graduating class was not until 2008. Little did Hampden-Sydney College know how much of an impact that the young school would have on the Tigers soccer program. Coached by Mike Anderson, a Randolph-Macon alumnus, the Cosby soccer program has sent seven players to play soccer at Hampden-Sydney, with six being on the roster this season.
The Cosby infusion started during the 2008-2009 school year at Hampden-Sydney. Cosby’s 2008 graduating class sent Bryan Hughes ’12, Kevin Anderson ’12, and Ben Jessee ’12 to Hampden-Sydney to play soccer. Hughes and Anderson are seniors on the team this year, while Jessee focused his attention on basketball after trying to balance both sports and academics. Hughes and Anderson have proven to be trailblazers on the soccer team as Cosby graduates Nick DeProspero ’13, Caleb Watkins ’14, Adam Nelson ’14, and Alex Thexton ’14 have since matriculated to Hampden-Sydney.
Why have so many Cosby players come to Hampden-Sydney? According to Kevin Anderson, “We had a special bond at Cosby. I think we had a sense of brotherhood as a high school team, and we were hoping to find the same feeling of togetherness at a college. Hampden-Sydney certainly exemplifies that brotherhood.”
Bryan Hughes thinks it’s because “Hampden-Sydney is a great college that exemplifies camaraderie and brotherhood. When we started our first season at Cosby, we were a new school and we weren’t sure how our season would play out. The only thing we were sure of was that we only had each other to depend on. That made us extremely cohesive and allowed us to experience that feeling of brotherhood. I think the other Cosby players that followed us to Hampden-Sydney thirsted for that feeling again too. To us, that’s what a team is all about.”
Having such a tradition of pulling in Cosby players hasn’t been just a mere coincidence. The success of Cosby alumni has been a factor in bringing in more players to Hampden-Sydney from Cosby.
Anderson and Hughes’ experiences have led them to want to bring more of their high school teammates to Hampden-Sydney. “I have had nothing but great experiences here. I have gotten involved in many aspects outside of soccer,” said Anderson. “I think some of our younger high school teammates saw how much we were enjoying our time here and wanted the same experiences.”
“We were part of a soccer program at Cosby that prides itself on doing everything right. That means in the classroom, on the field, and off. We love each other, and we take it hard to the other team,” Hughes said. “That’s a mentality that Coach Anderson instilled upon us and it’s unforgettable. So it’s easy to want and to accept players from Cosby because we know what traits they’ll exemplify.”
Hughes and Anderson have been important factors on the team in their four years, and they have found success on and off the playing field. This success was an important factor in the other four Cosby graduates coming to Hampden-Sydney for their collegiate careers. “It helped a lot to have guys I already knew on the team. Kevin and Bryan are both pretty open-minded and give you the facts without any extra icing,” said DeProspero. “I believe that getting straight-forward answers helped me establish how I was going to approach my freshman year.”
“It helped a lot on the field too, because Bryan, Kevin, and I were always around each other on the pitch in high school,” said DeProspero. “Their experience was passed down to me and I am grateful to have known not just guys from Cosby, but also a couple other guys from around Richmond and Williamsburg.”
Watkins also agreed that it was an encouraging factor in attending Hampden-Sydney. “The fact that I would be playing with six former high school teammates definitely was an encouraging factor. Having played with six soccer players from my high school definitely eased the transition to college.”
“We were the first graduating class at Cosby. We wanted to immediately establish traditions of winning championships. Our goal, just as it was at Cosby, is to win championships. I think we have a great opportunity to do that this fall,” said Anderson.
Despite being a Randolph-Macon alumnus, Coach Anderson is excited to see his former players wearing garnet and gray. “I’m extremely proud of all of the young men who’ve gone on to become Tigers. It is gratifying to attend the games and see so many of our players prospering in [Head Coach] Josh Laux’s program.”