Student athlete profile: Erik Recke, ‘21

The student athlete grind doesn’t stop becasue of a pandemic – especially for team captains


Eric Recke

Recke is a senior captain on the university men’s soccer team.

Crawford Humphreys

It was a cold and rainy night just west of Philadelphia when the Washington and Lee men’s soccer team had their 2019 postseason run come to an end. A gritty 2-1 loss against the defending national champion Tufts Jumbos left the Generals’ underclassmen and captain Erik Recke ‘21 hopeful for the future. A small graduating class and a strong crop of young players seemed like a

recipe for success in the 2020 fall season. Almost a year later, the Generals have yet to step on the field as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Recke is now left wondering if his last game in a blue and white uniform came on that fateful night in Pennsylvania.

Erik Recke’s soccer journey began at the age of three in Boyertown, Pa. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Patrick, who had played collegiate soccer at Millersville University and his sisters who played throughout high school. It was evident from the beginning that Recke had found his home on the pitch.

“I think I fell in love with it the moment I stepped on the field,” said Recke. “I remember when I was six and I scored my first goal in a real game. It just felt so good.”

From there, Recke moved on to Boyertown Area High School, where he led his team to two conference championships while racking up Tri-County Player of the Year and first team all-conference honors. When it came time to further his career at the collegiate level, a small liberal arts college nearrly 300 miles from home turned out to be a perfect fit.

“I fell in love with [Washington and Lee] the second I stepped on campus,” said Recke.

“It jumped up to my number one spot.” Michael Singleton, head coach of the Generals, was just as excited about Recke’s choice to come to Lexington. He had been impressed on the recruiting trail by Recke’s constant desire to improve and the way he took critiques from coaches to heart.

“That just told me ‘alright, we need him,’” said Singleton. “That mentality of taking responsibility to improve oneself and stay dedicated to it…that’s just a perfect mentality for an addition to our team.”

What Singleton saw on the recruiting trail quickly manifested itself. Recke started 10 games in a solid defensive unit his freshman year despite a hamstring injury, playing alongside his mentors Kyce Darouiche ’20, Will Rowson ’19, Jack Miller ’19 and a strong group of seniors from Singleton’s first recruiting class.

“That class really started the winning mentality here,” said Recke. “They’re a big reason why I was able to come back from my injuries and play harder and probably become a two-time captain.”

Recke continued to grow and develop with- in the program, playing in 15 games as a sophomore and notching his first career goals at the university. After winning the ODAC

championship, he returned his junior year and earned Third Team All-ODAC and ODAC All-Academic Team recognition on the way to a second consecutive ODAC title. However, it was the new title of captain that Recke took the most pride in.

“It’s a huge honor to be a captain,” said Recke. “Knowing that my teammates voted for me to do it, it’s a huge honor.”

He also grew as a leader, filling the holes that his mentors had left when they graduated and using the lessons they taught him during his first couple of seasons in Lexington.

“He really started owning the vocal leadership position we asked of him,” said Singleton. “He was one of the smartest defenders on the team and we needed him to share his knowledge.”

But the noteworthy stat lines and ODAC recognitions stop there, as Washington and Lee soccer grinds to a screeching halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The last chapter of Recke’s career remains a mystery as a potential spring season hangs in the balance.

But for Recke, not even a pandemic will stop his role as a leader of the team. He continues to direct players-only practices, lead workouts, and develop the newest generation of Generals soccer players, all with a smile on his face.

“There’s nothing you can do to control it,” said Recke. “Just be ready, just continue to play, and when you’re out there, just have fun.”