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STOP! Hamerlinck Time

by Gary Lowder

Any athlete could tell you that awareness of your own strength could be the factor that determines a win or a loss. After several seconds thinking long and hard about his own strengths, Blackburn men’s soccer goalie, senior communications major and supremely chill dude, Alex Hamerlinck, said, “I’m really great at putt-putt golf.” After several more seconds, he added, “And pool… I’m really good at all of the random useless things that no one else thinks of or cares about.”
When not perfecting his “random” and “useless” skills, Hamerlinck is a pretty good goalie. With 89 saves over the last 18 games played, his skills don’t seem all that useless. At this rate, he averages just under five saves per game.
When he’s on the field, Hamerlinck’s humble and joking nature dissolves away, leaving only determination, resolve and a very gifted athlete. Hamerlinck’s friend and fellow athlete Will Seaton shared his opinion of Alex both on and off the field: “He embodies the philosophy of working hard     but remembering to have fun at the same time. He always wants to be on the field and he will fight through pain and fatigue to help his team. As a person, he… enjoys making those around him laugh. This could be seen as very lax behavior, but he can be serious and focus in at a moment’s notice.”
Hamerlinck is originally from Springfield, but he went to school in Pleasant Plains, IL. He started playing soccer early when his parents signed him up to play in the Pee Wee leagues. From there, he moved on to the YMCA, rec league and eventually the elementary school team. “My transition to goalie was a weird one,” said Hamerlinck. “I started out as a striker when I was younger, but as I got older I also got slower.” Over his career, Hamerlinck went from striker, to midfielder, to defender and then finally settling in as a goalie.
Growing up, Hamerlinck just liked sports in general and wanted to try everything before settling anywhere. He even switched briefly to football: “I wasn’t big enough growing up to be really good at football, so soccer was my second choice. I got good at it because I was able to play it and I had experience.”
After graduating high school, Hamerlinck played goalie at Lincoln Land Community College for two years before transferring to Blackburn his junior year. “I like it here,” he said. “It’s nice. I like all the people here. It’s been fun… About soccer, I really like all the guys on the team this year. The coach is great and I’ve made a ton of fun memories.”
Judging by the fond words from Blackburn men’s soccer head coach Rob Steinkuehler, these feelings seem to be reciprocated. Steinkuehler said, “ I like to refer to Alex as the hippie of the team.  He’s a very relaxed and easy going guy. He’s worried about himself and leaves other people to their own business… He can be a bit sarcastic and enjoys a good laugh. Overall, he’s great …someone that I would trust my kids with.”
This being his last year at Blackburn, Hamerlinck talked briefly about what he wanted to do in the future: “I’m a communications major, but I’m not really sure what I want to do with that yet…. But I know that, as far as my communication skills are concerned, I love public speaking. I could talk forever. I would rather talk in public for a half hour than write a paper any day.” On the soccer side of things, Hamerlinck’s skills will be missed.  “He’s been a great player for us. His growth [has been] tremendous and he has performed at a high level,” said Steinkuehler. “As our season comes to an end, I will certainly look back on these past two seasons with joy and sadness. I’m certainly going to miss having Alex in the program.”
“Do I want to say anything to the people? Hmm… That’s really hard when you’re put on the spot like that,” Alex said. Then, in true Hamerlinck fashion, he gave a small list of things everyone should do to be happy:  “Always remember, breakfast food is the best food, button-up shirts are the way to go, everyone needs a pair of Chuck Taylors and vinyl is the best way to listen to music.”

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