Jan. 13, 2014
CHICAGO - In preparation for the start of the men's soccer spring season, Loyola Legends will profile prominent alumni from the men's soccer program. In the inaugural installment, we sat down with former Rambler, Eric Gehrig, for a quick break while he is gearing up for his 4th season with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS). Eric was a member of the Ramblers from 2006-2009 and was a three-time 1st Team All-Horizon League selection. Eric appeared in 78 matches during his career, capturing a Horizon League regular-season championship and helping lead the Ramblers to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths after winning the Horizon League Tournament. Eric majored in Sports Management in the Quinlan School of Business and received a minor in Communications.
As a professional soccer player, how is your daily life different than it was as a student-athlete here at Loyola?
It is very different. Everyone knows how well respected Loyola is academically so along with the soccer, I had to balance the classroom commitments. At the time, I didn't know what my future held. I knew I wanted to give the pro game a shot but it was also important for me to leave with a valued degree. I was lucky enough to do that and then go on and sign professionally. Nowadays, my life is 100% soccer related, whether it is film, training, workout, my diet etc. In school there is soccer, but also the classes, homework, etc.
Looking back now, what was your experience at Loyola like, and what about it best prepared you for life after Loyola?
Loyola was challenging, both on the field and in the classroom. Coming to Loyola, it was a mid-major program with zero NCAA tourney experience, and that's something I wanted to change. Soccer wise, it wasn't quite on the map yet nationally. I think the work my teammates and I put in to change that, and do great things when not many people expected it, helped prepare me mentality transitioning into the pro game and even life. I don't shy away from challenges or uphill battles. I've been there before and through hard work and grit, you can achieve things that didn't seem possible before. Same goes for the classroom. The curriculum was tough, no doubt. It was a grind at times with everyone going on but the feeling of having my degree, having worked so hard for it over four years, is invaluable.
What were some of the highlights of your time as a member of the Men's Soccer Team?
For sure the two conference championships/NCAA berths we won while I was there, just so many blue collar guys working hard for each other and breaking through, moments I'll never forget. The first two in school history at that, no one can ever take that away from the guys and I. Also, the regular-season title we won in between the conference titles. We should have gone dancing (made the NCAA Tournament) that year too dang it! Lastly, the relationships I formed through Loyola soccer. I'm friends with a lot of them today. Ask any of them, we didn't have a team of stars or big recruits. Sure we had a special player or two but it was guys battling for each other, sticking together to bring home those three trophies. It started from hot steamy days on that turf at Loyola Soccer Park, twice a day, to piercing wind and frozen soccer balls but we brought it every day!
What are your thoughts on the new Norville Athletic Center, and the upgrades done at Loyola Soccer Park?
When I first saw Norville I was honestly blown away. It's an absolutely beautiful facility, and as much as I love Alumni Gym, it doesn't even compare. From the locker rooms, to the training room, to the weight room, it is all just amazing. I was telling Loyola strength coach Dave Vitel, who I train with during offseason, if I were still a student at LUC I'd live in there! I have yet to see the upgrades at Loyola Soccer Park in person but the grandstand they added must be great for the players. I saw it through pics and it's certainly going to help home field advantage. If only we had these things when I was here, but it's going to be great moving forward for the athletic program that's for sure!
If you could describe Loyola in one sentence what would it be?
Loyola offers so many opportunities for future success, from the amazing city of Chicago, to the growing athletic program, and to its treasured academic curriculum; the sky is the limit for student-athletes.