Georgia’s finest: Dix making instant impact for UW

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoTen months ago, Kenny Dix could point to Wisconsin on the map — and that was about the extent of his knowledge of the state. Now, nearly a year later, Dix is sporting the cardinal and white as a true freshman midfielder for the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team.And he has big shoes to fill.The Badgers lost a solid veteran midfielder in Noah Goerlitz after last season. Goerlitz was second on the team with five assists a year ago and started all but one of the Badgers’ 19 games, so head coach Jeff Rohrman was going to need someone to step in right away.That somebody has turned out to be Dix.”He’s come in and he’s played simple,” Rohrman said. “He hasn’t tried to overdo things and he’s played within himself. And he’s done a great job for us. I think we’ve found a spot for him where he can be successful.”He has relished the opportunity, starting in three of the first four games for the Badgers. While his stat sheet may not look impressive, he has already made an impression on his coach.”He’s just been very steady, one of our most consistent performers through four games,” Rohrman said. “I’m not surprised and hopefully we’ll continue to see that.”He played so steady, in fact, that he was named to the all-tournament team at last weekend’s UW-Milwaukee Panther Classic.Dix had just two shots, one of them on goal, and was surprised when his name was announced. But team captain Aaron Hohlbein recognized how important the freshman was in salvaging a weekend split.”Kenny played awesome last weekend,” Hohlbein said. “It was his first weekend playing in that defensive-mid position and he was solid. He did the simple things right and he dictated play for us.”However, the all-tournament award was not even his first honor as a Badger. Before the season started, College Soccer News named him one of their Top 100 Freshmen.The quick start to Dix’s career at Wisconsin is a far cry from where he thought he would be at this time last year. The Atlanta native had not even considered coming to Madison at that point, but he’s glad the opportunity came his way.”I actually, pretty much didn’t know this school existed until over Christmas time, which is really late in the recruiting process,” Dix said. “Coach just saw me play in a tournament at the Disney Showcase and he talked to me, then [I] came out for a visit and I loved it. Everyone loves to be here and it’s an awesome place so I decided this was definitely the place for me.”Dix got his fair share of experience on the pitch growing up. He started playing when he was just three years old and hasn’t stopped since.Playing varsity soccer in high school, he helped his team to a state championship his junior year. He also played on regional and state club teams and the state team made it to national competition.”I just played on good teams,” Dix said. “It’s not like me doing anything extra, it’s just a lot of good players.”But the humble freshman deserved some credit for his teams’ success as well, and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America recognized it, making him part of the NSCAA/Adidas Boys Youth All-America Team.”The youth All-American award was pretty exciting because it recognizes you as one of the best youth players,” Dix said. “The club side of soccer is really competitive. I was really thrilled and honored.”His experience before coming to Wisconsin undoubtedly has helped his transition to Division I college soccer as he earned the starting nod in his first game as a Badger.”I hoped for it, but I didn’t expect it, so when I got the opportunity to play I was pretty excited,” Dix said. “I got a good opportunity and I took advantage of it.””Kenny’s smooth. He stepped right in there and filled in a very important position on the field,” Hohlbein said. “He’s got a lot of skill and he’s quick. He’s just a great player.”Of course, that very important position was left vacant by Goerlitz after last season. Hohlbein sees many similarities in the play of Goerlitz, a senior last season, and Dix.”They’re very similar players,” the captain said. “He plays a lot like Noah in that he works his butt off every second on the field. He does the simple things right like Noah did.”Dix, standing just 5’8” and weighing 140 pounds, is nearly the exact same size as the departed Goerlitz. Hohlbein did not believe that his size was a detriment, acknowledging the fact that he does a great job of getting up in the air to win headers.Being not only a freshman, but also one of the smaller players, it seems like Dix could be picked on early in his career. But Dix hasn’t let his size stop him before, especially not in his first four games in a Badger uniform, and he’s not about let it start. “I’m smaller so I definitely need to play faster and always know, when I get the ball, where I need to put it,” Dix said.”But I’m not too small, I can get around out there.”last_img read more