Published by IN Community Magazines – Penn Hills Winter 2016
PITTSBURGH – When Marc Alexander plays soccer for the University of Akron in 2017, he won’t be the best player on the field like he is now.
“Everyone will be better than me,” he says. “Mentally, I will have to change the way I play.”
Marc is currently a senior at Kiski School and is a center back on the soccer team. He says he was surprised to receive a full scholarship to the University of Akron, because such opportunities are rare. The university made the offer after Marc participated in a camp in Akron in July. He played against the current UA Zips team and says he was impressed by the skill and speed of the players: “It was a totally new level that I’ve never seen before.”
Marc is a little nervous about making the transition to play for the Zips because the team has a good reputation. He’ll work on improving his strength and agility before then.
“Only players who want to go pro go through the program,” he explains. “I’ll have to play smarter, faster, and quicker.”
He was also very impressed by the close relationships between players on the Zips team.
“It felt a family and that’s somewhere I want to be,” he says.
For aspiring young players, Marc advises them to make sure they maintain their grades while also working hard at practice.
“You have to go all out,” he says. “Every piece matters. Coaches are watching you at all times.”
Players also have to avoid giving up mentally, even when the situation may seem hopeless. Marc recalls one example when he played on the Century United soccer team three years ago, in a game where team was down by two goals. They came back to tie the game, and the team went on to win the tournament.
“We had to keep going and I had to keep the entire team together,” Marc says.
He credits Jeremy Gillespie, a former coach with Century United team, with helping him reach his full potential as a player: “He helped me get to where I’m at now.”
Marc will study engineering at Akron and would like to become a professional soccer player. His favorite team is Manchester City and his favorite player is Sergio Aguero.
Marc started playing soccer at age six but also played other sports, including basketball, football and baseball. He decided to focus on soccer and played as a forward before he became a defender. He enjoyed playing as a striker because it gave him the opportunity to score goals.
“Everyone wants to be the guy scoring goals with all the glory,” he says.
However, being a center back is also a good fit because Marc is so athletic.
“Now, I can lock down basically whoever I want to on the field at any time,” he says.
In 2013, Marc joined the Olympic Development Program soccer team and played in Zagreb, Croatia, and Venice, Italy. The team came in fifth place.
People often complain that soccer is boring, but according to Marc, playing the game or watching it in person is very different from seeing it on television.
“When you watch it on TV it looks like there’s a lot of space and it’s slow,” he says. “But in person you can see the speed of the game and how difficult it is to play. Everything is very quick.”