Talking to Carnegie Mellon’s Newest Goalie
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Eye color: Blue
Hair color: Brown
1. When did you start playing soccer?
I started playing around nine. I didn’t play actual soccer until I was 13, which was when I joined the Downtown United Soccer Club (DUSC).
2. What was your recruitment process like? What were your biggest struggles?
You have to advocate for yourself a lot. It is the business of selling yourself. You have to sell your talent—I didn’t have much talent to begin with, so selling it was hard. I am a shy person, so getting out and talking to coaches is more strenuous than anything else. You have to create a resume, go to tournaments, and e-mail coaches asking them to come to your tournaments, which may or may not hapen. They either give you feedback or tell you that they like what they see. I started my recruitment process the summer of my junior year. For Carnegie Mellon, I asked the coach to come to one of my tournaments, and he did. He then asked me to come to the ID camp, so I went to Pittsburgh that summer. After the camp, he e-mailed me and said that he’d like to continue the process through phone calls. I went on a phone call with the assistant coach, who asked me where I was in the recruitment process with other schools and such. During the second call, he offered me a position.
3. What position do you play? Are there any skills you want to improve on?
I play keeper. I’m horrible with my feet. I want to improve passing, juggling, dribbling, and other skills. I’m pretty solid with my hands, and any other body part except my feet. Ever since I started, my coaches have told me that since I’m tall, the strongest point of my game play should be my aerial domination. Whenever there’s a cross into the box, I have to be aggressive and intimidating and make sure that I have my vertical [jump] down and my footwork down for my vertical. Approach, confidence, handling skills, and decision-making are my strengths.
4. How was your experience on the Stuyvesant soccer team?
I regret not joining freshman year. I was close with the previous goalkeeper, who was two years older than me. He gave me a rundown of the team freshman year and told me that there were already a ton of keepers. He said I should definitely join the team, but that I would be practicing a lot instead of playing. Playing time is based a lot on what grade you’re in— freshmen are on the bottom of the totem pole. I told myself not to join because I didn’t want to waste my talent if I wasn’t going to play. That was probably my worst mistake. Once I joined my junior year, I had a good time, but I wasn’t as close to the players as I would’ve liked, especially the captains. My overall experience that junior year was frustrating. Senior year was also frustrating. But playing with the team is always fun, regardless of how hard it gets sometimes.
5. How do you deal with schoolwork and soccer? Any tips?
It sucks a lot. In the fall when I had both school and club soccer, I’d come home at like 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m., do homework until 2:00 a.m., and wake up at 6:00 a.m. It’s like that for a couple months, which sucks because I’m tired most of the time, but I just have to get through it. The mentality is that you sacrifice most of your social life, which is not always the best in the long run, but it is a choice you have to make in the beginning. I made my decision and it was a regrettable one to a certain extent. My tip would be that you just have to get it done. I know teachers always say it, but you have to manage your time. If you have a couple hours, check in with yourself every 30 minutes. Set goals and write lists to be efficient. Get as much done as you can whenever you have time; you won’t have to lose extra sleep that way.
6. What would be your advice for anyone who wants to be recruited for a college-level sport?
If you want to get recruited, you have to know at a young age that you want to play that sport until age 21 or 22. This isn’t an easy decision. If you know you have talent and passion, you have to put in time every day of every week. It’s not something you can take a vacation from because that hinders your progress. You have to push yourself every day. I knew I wanted to play college soccer when I was 14 or 15 because my coach, who was a D1 state champ and now coaches at CSI [College of Staten Island], told us about the connections and friendships you make. It’s something you can’t replace.
7. What is your proudest memory?
My proudest memory was winning the Potomac tournament in D.C. two or three years ago. We pulled off a Portugal, where we went to penalty kicks in both the semi-finals and finals. In the semi-finals, only two of five penalty kicks scored. In the finals, three scored. It was the first time I actually felt useful on my team. It made me grow closer to my teammates.
Drink of Choice: Pineapple Gingerale
Favorite food: Doughnuts
Motto to live by: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Fun fact: I used to go to military camp.