Reid Grayson and Ben Kern are on the cusp of joining an elite group of athletes: They've committed to play soccer for military academies.
Both are clear about the reason - they want to serve.
Grayson, who attends Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, will play at the Naval Academy. He was all-region in 2010 and 2011, Nation Ford's MVP in 2011 and has been named All-State in South Carolina.
"The Naval Academy will provide me with the best education," he said, though Wofford, Clemson, and Pitt were among his choices. "After I visited the campus and walked around Annapolis, I knew right away that this was for me."
Never miss a local story.
He plans to major in oceanography or naval architecture to prepare him for submarine service.
"Reid's transition to Division I soccer will be less difficult than others," said Nick Finotti, Grayson's club soccer coach. "His discipline, leadership, strength, skill-set and mindset are the best I have ever seen."
Kern, from Weddington High School, will attend the Air Force Academy.
He visited the Colorado campus early last fall. "I loved the atmosphere," he said. "The citizens of the United States are making an investment in me and I plan to give them their money's worth."
Other Division I soccer programs attempted to sway Kern, who has a 4.55 GPA and scored 1780 on the SAT.
Flying is Kern's career choice, and his caliber on the soccer field is just as high. Kern has played on U.S. Soccer's elite teams since 2006. He has been instrumental in the success of his Region III, Olympic Development Team and Developmental Academy teams. He has been selected all-conference, all-region and all-state in North Carolina.
Powell Williams, head coach of Weddington soccer, said, "Ben has the mental capacity, leadership and ability to do whatever he wants. He has been everything to our program. Competition drives him to excel."