Beyond the Wickets: An Interview with Vishwaa Sofat

Athlete of the Issue Vishwaa Sofat describes his experiences on the cricket team.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

An Interview with Vishwaa Sofat

Grade: Junior
Height: 6’2”
Eye color: Dark Brown
Hair color: Dark Brown
DOB: 03/20/2002

The Stuyvesant Tigers, the coed cricket team, are in the middle of their season with a record of 1-8. Captain Vishwaa Sofat was able to beat his personal record for runs this season, and he hopes to reach 50 runs at some point. The team will continue to try their best in order to finish the season strong. The Tigers have a tough and exciting season ahead of them.

When did you start playing cricket?

I was in third grade living in India. My family moved to India, and cricket is the biggest sport there so everyone plays it. It’s honestly more than a sport; it’s kind of part of the culture and tradition, so I just ended up playing it. Also, my uncle got selected as an under-17 player so it was like, why not?

What made you want to join the cricket team?

I actually didn’t want to play cricket. It’s something I still struggle with today. I feel like cricket is very stigmatized and frowned upon. People think that only brown people play and [that] it copies baseball. I’ve heard people say that so many times. It used to get to me. Freshman year, I knew that if I joined, my friends would have thought I was joking. But when I decided to join, I was thinking about all the fun memories I had in India playing the sport. I knew I wouldn’t be doing justice to my identity if I didn’t try. I didn’t have a lot of energy to play freshman year, but the old captains convinced me and I’m so glad I joined. It’s helped me be comfortable with being Indian-American, which is so hard and constantly frustrating. People don’t often get the way I was raised, but being around people with similar backgrounds has really helped.

What are your goals for yourself and the team this year?

My freshman year, I set the freshman record [for runs] and my sophomore year, I set the sophomore record for the team. Hopefully, I can set the junior record. I already set my personal record this season and I want to continue to grow. Ideally, I’d be [in] the top 10 to 15 players in PSAL for batting average because that’s where I am consistent. I’m top 30 right now so I just need to step it up a little. And I really want to make Maris Cup. In terms of our team, making sure we coach and have enough players is important. Right now our goal is to win as many games as possible but even more so, to grow.

What is your respective position on the team, and what do you do there?

I’ve been the captain of the team for two years, but I have two vice-captains. We take care of practices, do drills, control the game, [and] decide the lineup. For the most part, that’s done by us. To an extent, it’s nice to have that independence because it’s nice to grow, but it’s somewhat restrictive as to how far we can go.

How has the captaincy changed your playstyle and outlook on the game?

Being captain changes the whole game. Freshman year, I would feel very free and confident. I would step on the field and I would think, ‘Hey I’m decent, I can do this.’ It was a lot easier. As soon as I became captain, it became a lot more [pressurizing]. When you’re captain, you’re the one people look up to as the guiding figure. If you fail to perform, how does that resonate with everyone else? It was just always in the back of my mind. Any mistake I made would be a bigger deal than anyone else’s mistake. My batting has gotten somewhat worse because of it. Now I have to play longer and safer because we don’t have that many batsmen. I won't get out and play any risky moves. If I’m even one percent hesitant, then I stop, calm down, and figure out how to protect myself and the wicket to save the team. The captains [in] my freshman year told me they trusted me so I could hit more. But it’s different to trust yourself.

How do you deal with playing cricket and your schoolwork; do you have any tips?

My two vice-captains, Parthiv Lodh and Ahmed Rashid, have helped me a lot on the days where I can’t make practice. Every morning, I plan out what my day is going to look like after school. I can’t usually be there at 3:45 p.m. right after school, so the goal is to finish up whatever SU stuff I have to do within 30 minutes. During the 30 minutes I’m not at practice, the rest of the team starts warming up. When I get there, I don’t really need to warm up because I’m more so coaching than playing myself. It kind of works out like that when my schedule overlaps. I’ve been forced to use my time really wisely. I was never a person to work on the train. My train ride is over an hour both ways. Now, I try to use that time to read my book for English or do SAT prep. I’ve gotten used to long nights and staying up late, [and] my body has gotten used to it. I do a lot of my work at night when everyone else is sleeping to avoid distractions. Everything I do—SU, Model UN, cricket—is because I enjoy it, so I do whatever I can to make it work. I’ve found different strategies over the years to balance it all.

What have been your favorite memories or moments in cricket?

My favorite memory has been winning a game in the last over, which is the last six balls. We were playing against Francis Lewis. We had two balls and five runs to win. I hit the ball and I had the option to hit the ball or run a single. I took the single and my whole team was mad at me, but I stayed calm. The person on the other side was a freshman and the next ball looked like it was going wide, so I thought he’d leave it, but no. He swept the ball and it went for a four. I was shocked. I’d watched so many last-minute win highlights, and it was so cool to be a part of one.

Proudest moment so far?

My freshman year, we were playing Thomas Edison and a bunch of alumni captains were visiting. They are the people [who] hold almost every record for this team, and all of us look at them like gods. I remember I was batting, and I hit a six, which is the most you can get. At the end of the game, the alumni told me I was better than them and I could take the team somewhere. The validation meant more than [that of] my parents or any coach.

Choice drink: When I have money, Joe’s Half and Half, but when I don’t, peach Snapple.
Favorite food: Anything vegetarian. I love all food.
Fun fact: My name used to be Shivam.