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League of Nations

McCallum boys soccer rosters include players with ties to Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Gregory James, Staff Reporter

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Junior Tomasso Gaddi dribbles past Austin High defenders during the JV soccer game on Jan. 27. The Knights shut out the Maroons, with Gaddi scoring both goals. Photo by Isaias Cruz.

It would be an understatement to say the McCallum soccer team is diverse. The team has players with Nigerian, English, Mexican and Nicaraguan heritages, and has also welcomed three exchange students from Europe this season—but this is not a new phenomenon.

“We’re unique in soccer because we get students from all over the world every year,” Coach Nicholas Martin said. “You generally don’t get that in many other sports. It’s really fun to get people from all around the world and see how other countries play the game.”

Junior Tomasso Gaddi is one of these exchange students. Gaddi is originally from Milan, Italy, and is on the JV team. Because he is part of a UIL-accredited foreign-exchange program, Gaddi is eligible to play varsity soccer, but he chose to play at the junior-varsity level because he is concurrently completing Italian and American coursework. Managing double the courses hasn’t been Gaddi’s only adjustment, though.

 

Junior Tomasso Gaddi. Photo by Gregory James

“In America a game has three referees, one that runs the field [and] two on the sidelines, but in Italy we have only one referee who runs the whole field,” Gaddi said. “In Italy we shake hands with our opponent before the game but in America, the teams shake hands after the game. In my first game I was expecting to shake hands at the beginning of the match, so that was something new for me to shake afterwards.”

Another exchange student in his second year in America, sophomore Jonathan Janzen, said there were some other key differences in the game.

“We work out more here,” Janzen said. “Lifting weights is something we don’t do in German soccer practices.”

Janzen is living with a host family here in Austin and is accompanied by his uncle. Being an international player comes with certain expectations, according to Janzen.

“People think that [I] must be good because I’m from Germany and my friend is from France; Europe is the center of soccer, so they expect you to be good,” Janzen said. “You have to fulfill that expectation, but it’s nice, and it’s kind of special.”

Another international student is junior Antony de Bataille II from France, who is ineligible from being a part of the varsity team, because he is not with an accredited UIL foreign- exchange program. He is here with family, not as an exchange student.

The biggest change for Bataille was the role of soccer in the world of American sports.

“In France, soccer is the main sport, so everyone plays it, but in the U.S. it comes fourth to football, basketball and baseball,” Bataille said. “Soccer is smaller here.”

One of the jobs of the soccer team each year, according to Coach Martin, is to incorporate all the different styles that international players bring and turn them into one style of play.

Sophomore Jonathan Janzen. Photo by Gregory James

“We have a fun time trying to do that job,” Martin said.

The team also has American players with international parents. One such student is junior Adrian Martinez, whose father is from Mexico and mother is from El Salvador, both Latin American countries where soccer is the national sport. Martinez has been playing soccer since the age of four for teams like Lonestar FC and the YMCA. Martinez’s interest in soccer began with his family.

“I copied what my brother did,” Martinez said. “I started enjoying soccer from watching him play.”

Sophomore Yonathan Southwick is another international player. Coming from Ethiopia, Yonathan has been in America a year-and-a-half. He plans to join his family in Ethiopia again soon, but said he has enjoyed his time at McCallum.

“I like how the team has international backgrounds,” Southwick said. “Some of the players are born in America but have parents from Europe, Mexico, Africa and other continents. That’s why I like playing on the McCallum varsity team.”

The team is optimistic that they can bring all their international styles of play to make two great McCallum teams.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “League of Nations”

  1. Aidan Golliher on February 22nd, 2018 11:57 am

    Great Story! Since I’m friends with them, this story is very entertaining and I have learned things about them that I didn’t know. I can easily relate to this story because I am on the team with them and they all are very good!

    [Reply]

  2. Isaias Cruz on March 9th, 2018 1:39 pm

    I really enjoyed the story because it allows more people to learn about these students which have different backgrounds and come from different parts of the world. I really liked the quotes of the players because new things about them that i didn’t know before, it is always nice to learn how things in other countries differ from the US like how Tomasso talked about the process of the game in Italy. 🙂

    [Reply]

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