Name: Ben Brandt
Sport: Men’s Soccer
Hometown: Lincolnshire, Illinois
Major: Business Economics
Why did you choose UChicago?
Like most athletes at UChicago, I was looking for a school with great academics and very competitive sports. The men’s soccer team was ascending to one of the best teams in the country when I was being recruited, and the culture and coaching made it an easy decision compared to other schools I was looking at.
Favorite moment of your UChicago athletic career?
Too many to name, but my favorite team moment was winning in penalty kicks in the Elite Eight against Emory to make it to our first Final Four – pure electricity. My other favorite was coming back from down 2-0 at Hope to scoring the winning goal in overtime last year – that game felt like a catalyst for the rest of our season and the resiliency it showed.
What made you fall in love with your sport originally?
Soccer wasn’t always my favorite sport: basketball was. But I really am in love with high-level competition. Once I was 16 and playing in State and Midwest Championships, I got to feel the intensity of those games and was hooked from then on. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of a lot of those games at UChicago with our team’s success the last few years.
What lessons have you learned through competing in your sport that have stuck with you?
I probably have learned more through soccer than in any other aspect of my life. But one of the main takeaways for me that I use every day is that you can’t skip the work. You have to fall in love with the process and never cut corners because it will catch up to you eventually – discipline is king. The work you put in preparation for competition is what allows you to approach any situation with confidence in your performance.
What advice would you give to your first-year teammates?
Don’t wait for things to happen to you or for you; make them happen. When you come in as a freshman, senior year seems so far away – it really isn’t. You have to develop a mindset that you are going to impose your will in a positive way that will help the team succeed. Too many people don’t realize this until its too late and regret some of the time wasted waiting for things to work out.
Favorite UChicago class that you learned the most from and why?
One of my favorite classes was Negotiations which I took at the Booth level. Getting to negotiate with students who had real work experience and perhaps some in the types of situations we were modeling was a challenging and rewarding experience. Also, realizing how much the skills of negotiation affect us in all facets of life and having the skills to navigate those conversations can net everyone involved significant benefits has been a revelation for me.
Which UChicago faculty or staff member made the greatest impact on you and why?
It has to be Coach Pat Flinn. He was the assistant coach when I was being recruited and returned as head coach of the men’s soccer team during spring of my second year. Beyond improving my skills as a soccer player, he has helped me develop and reveal grit as well as be a better leader and competitor.
Favorite place on campus?
South Campus Field. I love the feel of playing under the lights in Hyde Park, the construction around it, the new buildings, all of it. It feels like it’s almost out of a video game. I have had so many great training sessions with the team there in preseason and spring season.
Favorite thing to do in the city?
Every year growing up for my dad’s birthday, we would go to the Lincoln Park Zoo (hopefully the polar bears were there because they are by far the coolest), go to Oak Street Beach, and have dinner at Lawry’s. Unfortunately, Lawry’s left this year but that type of day has always been my favorite.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I am going to be working in Houston for Lazard in their Energy Group for Investment Banking. I am also hoping to commit more time to golf as my soccer career winds down.
Favorite Chicago restaurant?
Portillo’s and Carson’s Ribs. Anyone who has been there understands.
Favorite place you’ve visited?
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. I went on a backpacking trip there in high school and it is hands down the most beautiful place I have ever been to in the world.
Strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I ate a grilled cicada one summer when I was younger when they were everywhere. 10/10 would not do again.