While Bethlehem Steel FC was kicking off a busy May slate that features three matches in just eight days, midfielder Santi Moar’s schedule was even busier but worth it in the end, as he walked across the stage and earned his college degree last Saturday.
“It was a special moment for me because one of the main reasons I’m here in this country was the education and the opportunities that college and sports offered me,” Moar said. “To get that degree and close the circle for me important.”
Moar received his bachelor’s degree from Pfeiffer University on Saturday morning, completing his education journey that started back in Spain. Wanting to get an education that would benefit him after soccer, Moar had to overcome a challenge more international students face. English.
“It was a challenge and scary because getting an education is tough but getting one in a language you are not familiar with is even harder,” Moar said. “It was a challenge but it made me grow up quickly.”
After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union, Moar signed with Bethlehem Steel FC and began his professional career. While he turned in a spectacular campaign that saw him finish runner-up for USL Rookie of the Year with six goals and six assists, Moar was still looking to complete his degree that required an internship due to his major in health and physical education.
The Philadelphia Union and the Bethlehem Steel organization helped me a lot in getting this degree,” Moar said. “They offered me an internship in the Union Academy so that was helpful for me and helped me finish my last semester that was missing. At the same time, coming to practice in the morning and then completing online classes in the afternoon was sometimes challenging but being a student-athlete is tough sometimes but it is rewarding at the same time.”
With his education on track, Moar saw the opportunity to attend his college graduation in North Carolina when the USL schedule was announced. The weekend of Pfeiffer University’s graduation fell with Steel FC on the road at the Charleston Battery, just four hours away.
“I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t miss a game for any reason, even my college graduation but being so close with my college in North Carolina and our game in South Carolina; I tried to make it happen and made as many calls as I could,” Moar said. “It’s a memory that I will always have in my head, walking in your college graduation and playing in a professional game in the afternoon was really a good experience.”
In the match that ultimately when in the host's favor, Moar came on as a second-half substitute and created a scoring chance late in the match. Asked after the contest if he had any advice for athletes still on the fence about getting their degree while playing professional, Moar quickly advised his route.
“Go for it and finish it because after soccer you need to have something,” Moar said. “Sometimes we think that this is going to be our entire life but sadly the soccer life isn’t that long. We need to have plans and having an education is part of that.”
For Moar, getting the degree from Pfeiffer was even more special as he became the first person in his family to complete a college education. While the degree might say ‘Santi Moar’, the native Coruna, Spain, believes there are a lot more folks behind it.
“When I say that I’m the first one in my family to get a degree, that is true but at the same time, this isn’t my degree. It’s more a family degree. My parents, my brother and sister and even my grandparents helped me a lot because they knew the importance of me getting a college education. It was a team win and they were just as happy as I was. They have really helped me through this process.”