The Diversity of the Men's Soccer team helps the Foresters work toward a common GOAL
With six players from countries across the globe, the men’s soccer team receives glances from opposing teams when they come out of the lockerroom for warm-ups.
“Most of the teams look surprised when they see us,” Alberto Pedraza, a freshman from Monterrey, Mexico said recently at a Soup and Stories event on campus. “They know we see soccer in a different way so they expect us to be good.”
The international flavor has paid off for the Foresters this season. The team is undefeated at 9-0-2, including a 1-1 tie with Dubuque, who was ranked 16th in the country at the time of the game.
“Our playing styles clash with each other, but we tend to
slow it down and look for options,” Alexi Spiratos, a
sophomore from Kefalonia, Greece who played locally at Glenbrook
South said. “Any team we’ve played cannot handle
“The style of playing is more relaxed,” Pedraza added. “We don’t play one way, we play different styles.”
But, it has proved to be an advantage. Even though there are cultural differences, it is a close knit team that spends time off the soccer pitch together. “It brings diversity to the team,” Hugh Watanabe, a freshman from Ishikawa, Japan who played at the Kent School before coming to Lake Forest said. “They (the American players) have a desire to know more about the members on the team.”
Watanabe said his teammates are particularly interested in the traditions and habits of the foreign players. “Instead of cooking fish, I prefer to eat it raw. It’s great that they still want to know.”
But, it puzzles the foreign players like Pedraza that the Americans prefer to watch the NFL on Sunday instead of soccer. While it frustrates Spiratos, he agrees with Pedraza. “I feel if they watched soccer they would appreciate it more.”
All three student-athletes feel as though they will still be involved in soccer in some capacity after they graduate. “I’ll probably find a way to stay involved,” Spiratos said. “I couldn’t imagine life without it.”
Watanabe, a communication major who is the son of a Japanese father and an American mother, is interested in sports journalism. “Becoming a soccer player was my dream when I first saw the World Cup in 2002,” he said.
Pedraza had an offer to play soccer in Mexico, but instead chose to come to Lake Forest for both the business and soccer programs. He knows that Major League Soccer recruits college players. “I like the style of play here,” he said. “I saw some games off the internet.” But at the same time, Pedraza misses some aspects of playing soccer in Mexico. “You’re working hard on playing on the team that you’re on,” he said. “They are all really serious about the sport.”
Watanabe misses the amount of passion and emotion towards the sport. “If I collapsed on the side and started puking, the team captains would pick me up and tell me to keep going.”
Spiratos agrees. “Soccer is more than a passion, it is a religion.”