Amateur fisherman Sippola wades into pro soccer ranks

Butler grad spurned PDL sides that couldn't offer riverside views

Ben Sippola is an avid fly fisherman.

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Ben Sippola

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When midfielder Ben Sippola went shopping for Premier Development League teams to play for after his sophomore and junior seasons at Butler University, the candidates had to have one criterion to interest him – fly fishing in the area.

That’s why spent the summer of 2009 with the Cascade Surge in Salem, Ore., and the past season back in his native Minnesota on the Rochester Thunder.

“I started fly fishing when I was 11,” he said. “It’s my favorite thing in the world. I get out as much as I can. I lived in Oregon for one summer and another in southeastern Minnesota, and made trips to Montana and Idaho.”

But his Major League Soccer career got its start when the Crew took him in the Supplemental Draft last month, leaving him with one obvious problem. Sneaking a Chicago Fire fan into the Crew’s Nordecke supporters’ section would be easier than finding a fly fishing spot around Columbus.

“It’s a sacrifice you pay for playing the game you love,” Sippola said.

How devoted is Sippola? He’s chronicled his adventures in his blog “Munster Trout: Driftless Minnesota.” It’s not a big deal – he has 46 followers and hasn’t posted since Sept. 18 – but it does offer some insight into another side away from the field.

“I started the blog last summer just for kicks,” he said. “I’m an English literature major, so it was an outlet for writing. It grew from there.”

Sippola spent his early years in Minnesota before his family moved to Ft. Collins, Colo., when he was five years old.

“Obviously, everybody in Minnesota plays hockey when you’re young, so I dropped the hockey, picked up soccer and never put a ball down since,” he said.

The Sippolas moved back to Minnesota a few years later and he finished his high school career at the private Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn.

Sippola had a stellar career at Butler, capped by being named the 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year. He was also a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy.

The Crew view him as a defensive midfielder with bite, in the mold of Danny O’Rourke.

“He’s tough. He’s aggressive,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “He has a big heart and works hard on the field.”

Sippola said tenacity is his strength, and he hopes to showcase it with the Crew.

“I’m always the hardest working guy, have been through my whole life,” Sippola said. “I have a good skill set along with my hard work.”