High School Sports

Former Viking is realizing his dream at West Point

IT’S BECOME NORMAL for college athletes to hit campus the summer prior to their freshman seasons to get a jump on their new life.

What’s not common among that group is the experience Kris Hartvigsen has endured.

Since June 30, Hartvigsen’s life includes being roused at 4:30 a.m. and throwing 80 pounds of gear on his back for hikes and runs. He has called home twice since then, adhering to strict time constraints.

A former Spring Valley High soccer player who helped the Vikings reach the past three Class 4A state championship games, Hartvigsen is nearing the end of cadet basic training at West Point, N.Y., where he will begin his college soccer career at Army later this month.

Hartvigsen didn’t wind up in the physically and mentally grueling program because he didn’t have any other choices. Rather, he planned this phase of his life for years, hardly listening when schools such as Presbyterian or Wofford wanted to talk about having him play soccer for their schools.

“He has wanted to do this since high school,” his mother, Cheryl Hartvigsen said.

Maybe even before that.

Kris’ grandfathers both served in the Army. Before he passed away, Kris’ maternal grandfather told stories about his days serving in Vietnam.

While that set the foundation, Cheryl Hartvigsen said, her son was also affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and former NFL player Pat Tillman’s decision to give up his career to join the Army. Tillman was later killed by a friendly fire while stationed in Afghanistan.

“He’s one of those patriotic kids,” Cheryl Hartvigsen said. “Ever since 9/11, he got more interested in what was going on.”

Getting into West Point required Congressional recommendation letters from Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C. Hartvigsen secured all three, was selected to attend a summer leadership conference at West Point a year ago, took in an Army soccer camp and he committed while on an official visit last fall.

Once his appointment came through in January, Hartvigsen’s future was set.

The future is now his reality, but that difficult stretch is nearly over. Hartvigsen completes his basic training Sunday, allowing him a few days to rest prior to the start of soccer practice for the fall.

Army’s freshman class has 19 members, including Hartvigsen, and they will be needed. The Cadets lost 12 players off last season’s 9-7-2 team.

“It will be tough to replace all that our graduates meant to the team,” Army coach Kurt Swanbeck said in a press release. “But I’m optimistic we won’t miss a beat with a solid group of returners and a deep and talented class of newcomers.”

Count Hartvigsen among that group of newcomers who will certainly be in playing shape when the season begins later this month.