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Penny closes out collegiate career


Glencoe graduate Alex Penny puts the finishing touches on his four-year career at Oregon State

by: PHOTO BY DAVE NISHITAMI - Glencoe grad Alex Penny is in his senior season as a member of the mens soccer team at Oregon State.

Growing up, Oregon State midfielder Alex Penny knew that playing football was never going to be an option. Penny’s mother, Kim Simmons, who owns her own dance studio, never wanted to see her son playing a sport that was so dangerous.

So, with playing football out of the question, Penny turned to soccer. He soon discovered that he was very good at it.

“I just started with soccer and stuck with it,” Penny says. “I knew that it was the sport that I was probably going to be the most successful in.”

Soccer was the only sport that Penny played until he got to Glencoe High. Finally, his junior and senior year, he was convinced to branch out and run track. As a senior, Penny helped Glencoe’s 4x400-meter relay team finish second at the OSAA Class 5A state track meet.

Unlike many soccer players who go on to play at the collegiate level, Penny did not play too much club soccer once he got to Glencoe. But, Penny was fortunate enough to play under Glencoe coach Tom Stevens. On top of guiding the Crimson Tide to an undefeated record and a state championship in Penny’s junior year, Stevens’ system prepared Penny for college soccer.

“We had a great coach in Tom Stevens,” Penny says. “He really worked with us, saw what kinds of players he had and worked around it. It helped me get an idea of what the next level would be like.”

After finishing a standout career at Glencoe where he was named First Team All-State and All-League three times, Penny decided to go to Oregon State.

“I like being close to my family and close to my friends and I knew that I wanted to be at a Division I school,” Penny says. “This just seemed like the perfect fit.”

As well as Glencoe’s soccer program prepared Penny for the next level, the 6-foot-1, 160-pounder quickly discovered that playing college soccer was a lot more challenging than playing as a prep.

“It was a big difference,” Penny says. “There was the transition from high school soccer to college soccer, which is a lot faster.”

His freshman season, Penny subbed into all 15 matches that he appeared in. He only shot five times and though three of his shots were on frame, he was not able to put the ball in the back of the net. But, Penny was able to notch his first career point with an assist against San Jose State. Later he recorded his second assist of the season against Gonzaga.

Penny admits that there were times during his freshman and sophomore seasons when his confidence waned.

“There’s always times when you just have one of those practices,” Penny says.

Then, against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Penny recorded his first career goal. That moment would have been special enough, but the goal was also a match-winner.

“That was the highlight of my career,” Penny says. “It was a big thing. Looking back on that, it gave me the confidence to keep going.”

Penny finished his sophomore season with 15 appearances and seven starts.

Penny’s stats as a junior are not overwhelming. He played in 17 matches, making five starts and did not record a goal or notch an assist. But, his understanding of the game and the way he fit into the Beavers system improved dramatically.

“Last year everything improved,” Penny says. “I had a better idea of how the game works and what the coaches were expecting. My junior year was a good stepping stone for this year and the games to come.”

Penny realizes that his senior season will probably be his last year as a competitive soccer player.

“This is going to pretty much wrap it up,” Penny says. “I have a lot of other things I want to do academically and I’m looking to further my career. I studied merchandising management at Oregon State and I would like, potentially, to be some sort of graphic designer at a sports company.

“Nike would be awesome to work for. After I graduate I’ll be looking to get some kind of internship there and see where that takes me.”

While the day when he has to finally hang up his boots is looming over him, Penny is not yet ready for the end to come. Before he moves on to his new life, Penny wants his senior season at Oregon State to be as special as he and the rest of his teammates can make it.

“It’s hard looking back and realizing that this will be the last year I’ll ever play,” Penny says. “I want to end on a strong note. I want to help this team try to make it to the tournament and get as far as we can in it.

“This is the right team to end my career on. It will be a good year.”