These days, Brooks Duff is on pins and needles awaiting a decision on his application for medical school. He is scheduled to graduate from Furman University in May.
Passively waiting is a far cry from the former Greenbrier soccer star's normal routine. The focus needed in the field of medicine, however, is similar to that of the big moments during a four-year career at Furman that ended last month.
"I'm pretty open, but if I had to choose sort of a broad field, I like the idea of surgery," said Duff, a 2007 graduate of Greenbrier High School. "I interned with two different surgeons. ... I really like being in the operating room and sort of being able to cut into people and experiment a little bit."
The transition is natural for a player who carved up defenses.
Against Southern Conference rival Georgia Southern, the senior had a memorable performance. He scored the tying goal in the final minutes of regulation, then won the game in overtime on a hustle play on a rain-soaked field.
Earlier in the season, the forward notched the game-winning goal against Stetson as his Paladins earned the Diadora/Spinx Furman Invitational championship.
This season, Furman won its second conference championship in the past four years.
Duff's hard work on the field and in the classroom caught plenty of attention this season. In the end, he was named to the Academic All-District III first team, according to the College Sports Information Directors of America.
"I was really, really surprised, because I wasn't expecting to be on the first team or even on the list at all," Duff said. "To get that sort of acknowledgement was very, very rewarding."
A 3.80 grade-point average as a chemistry major helped Duff's cause. He said his experience at Greenbrier -- when he was named as The Augusta Chronicle 's All-Area Player of the Year two consecutive years -- helped set the tone on the field and in the classroom.
"It definitely laid down the foundation," he noted. "In my four years of high school, we were very competitive all four years. I was able to surround myself with other good soccer players, good people, coaches and teachers as well."
While Duff admitted a bit of surprise at the honor, it didn't surprise his mother, Andria.
"I expected Brooks to do well in school and on the field," she said. "We're extremely proud of the way he's carried himself for four years and been able to balance the two so well."
One thing that took her and Duff's father, Dave, by surprise was their experience during his time at Furman. Attending all of his home games, they became part of a tailgating group.
"It was a great group of parents," Andria Duff said. "We really made some close friends that we'll miss a lot now that it's all done."
Duff's dedication was something longtime roommate Maros Valko noticed from the start. The Slovakia native is a junior goalkeeper for the Paladins.
"You can just tell that he knows what he wants after college," Valko said. "He's really dedicated to school and he's going for it. ... The younger kids on the team tend to take him as a role model."
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