What got you interested in playing soccer?
The culture of soccer has always had a spot in my family’s heart. My grandfather played for a large majority of his life and played professionally. My dad played soccer throughout his youth and continued playing at the college level. Since I was young, the sport has always intrigued me. I tried almost every sport there is, but I realized quickly that soccer was my sport. Watching soccer every Saturday morning with my dad was something that I always looked forward to as a young boy. I started playing at age 3 and I never looked back. Since then, I have been playing all around the Eastern Region, making memories and doing what I love most.
Any favorite on-field memories from your NHS career?
There is one game that comes to mind. It was during my junior year in the first round of the state tournament. We were given the 14th seed which meant that our first game would be against one of the top teams in the tournament. This didn’t stop us from competing and playing with teamwork and heart. The game went back and forth. At the end of regulation time and overtime, the score was 1-1. We then went into penalties which led us to securing a win and advancing into the next round of states. This moment was huge for our team. It gave us so much momentum and hope because we realized that when we all play together we are a unit not to be underestimated. This was more than just a win for us. From that moment, we changed from teammates into brothers, on and off the field. That moment will never be forgotten.
How do you get pumped up for a game?
I don’t do anything special or out of the ordinary to prepare myself for an upcoming game. Usually before a game I will have my headphones on listening to my music on max volume. I also tape up my wrist and write my grandpa’s name on it. This always helped me to stay focused and keep my cool when I was on the field. When we have an away game I sit in the very back of the bus. I listen to my music and focus on what I need to do in the game in order for our team to succeed.
You were the top scorer this year. How were you able to achieve that?
After my junior year I finished with 10 goals which didn’t sit well with me. I was disappointed and knew that I could have done better. So, at the beginning of senior year I made a promise to myself that I would surpass my goal count from last year. Being focused in training and during games helped me to achieve my goal contributions of the season. I would score a goal and then want to keep scoring and not stop until the game was over. I also joked around with Coach Tolve, saying that I was going to break the record for most goals in a season.
The team had a winning season with a 12-5-1 record. What factors made that possible?
Since we had a good amount of key players from the 2017 team, this translated into performing well this year. Our team had good chemistry on and off the field which allowed us to communicate well with each other during games. We had a lot of new varsity players. Initially, this was a little bit of a challenge as we learned each other’s playing style. But as the season progressed, we turned into a solid team instead of 11 individual players. Additionally, I have a great bond with my Nutley teammates that I also play club soccer with in Bloomfield. This bond helped to lead our team to be so successful.
Do you have any favorite teams or athletes?
One of my favorite athletes is Lionel Messi. Messi has achieved almost everything you can wish to achieve as a professional soccer player. Playing at the top level in Europe with one of the best teams to ever exist is something I look up to. Messi started his life poor and was counted out his whole life. He proved the negative people wrong year after year as he continued to achieve success. Messi is one of the best soccer players to ever live. This is truly inspirational to me and the way that Messi carries himself on and off the field is something to strive for.
How do you have fun when you’re not playing soccer?
When I’m not on the field I like to spend my time hanging out with my friends. I have a great group of friends and we share many laughs together. We always have a great time. Having a close group of friends is very important to me and I am happy that I have them.
Any post-graduation plans?
I hope to continue my soccer career in college. I have played soccer at different club teams and for four years throughout high school. Now it is time for me to take on a new challenge. College soccer is a whole different breed than club and high school soccer and I hope to compete at this next level. Besides soccer, I am looking forward to studying business management.