by Adam Chrysostomou
As the time was winding down, MSIT was driving down the field for one last chance to win the game during stoppage time. Vincent Podolsky gets the ball and gets fouled. The ball is placed just outside the box. Vinny takes three steps back, takes a deep breath and sets his sights on the goal. He knows exactly where to put it. His opponents put the biggest people on the wall but Vinny knows that they are no match for his stellar free kick. He shoots on goal, and the goalie can’t get to it. The referee blows the whistle and the game is over. Seagulls win. This is just a day in the life of Vincent Podolsky. I sat down with the MSIT soccer captain and asked various questions about his soccer life.
Adam Chrysostomou: What got you into soccer?
Vincent Podolsky: I started with kickboxing, but I got kicked in the family jewels by some kid who didn’t know what they were doing, and I quit. I enjoyed being physical and I was good on my feet so I started playing soccer. I started when I was 10 years old. My first travel team was the Holy Child Carnivores, then I went to Holy Child Cyclones. Later on, I played for a team in NJ called the Homedale Sounders. As I grew out of the division I decided it was time to come back to Staten Island, so I went to Silver Lake Adriatic during the 8th grade. Due to bad management, aka the president, the whole team left and went to Staten Island United during sophomore year, and we have been there since.
AC: How was the transition from travel ball to high school ball?
VP: When I joined MSIT soccer, I expected it to not be as competitive as travel ball due to the stigmatism that travel is significantly better than high school ball. But I was pleasantly shocked to find a lot of competition. I spent most of freshman year as a rotation player due to injuries. Sophomore year however I took over the role of starting center-mid. That year we won MSIT’s first ever boys playoff game. Gradually I moved my way up the ladder and junior year I became the youngest ever captain. Later that year we again made the playoffs in the second round. Since freshman year, we have been moving up in the seeding all the way to second place last year. Hopefully we end the season with a banner this year.
AC: How has the MSIT season gone so far? Any surprises?
VP: We are doing good so far, we are in second place on the island. Hopefully we can move up to number 1 when we verse Petrides, who is first. Any surprises? The ALMIGHTY MATTHEW FAM. But all jokes aside, the freshmen on the team have really impressed.
AC: Why the number 11?
VP: It was actually 25 that I started playing soccer with not 11. 25 was the first number I ever had, and I just stuck with it. Sophomore year my favorite player Didier Drogba stopped playing for Chelsea, my favorite soccer team, so I changed my number in honor of him.
AC: Why the change of name?
VP: It was my great-babushka’s birthday and I was thinking that she was getting very old, so I wanted to do something special for her. So I thought of the idea to change my last name, to keep her last name living on. My parents loved the idea and our whole family ended up changing their names from Pashchenko to Podolsky.
AC: How do you feel about being the top goal scorer on the island?
VP: It’s a great honor, but it’s not only me. It’s my teammates who make me better. Without them assisting me I wouldn’t be able to score my goals. Soccer is a team sport, it’s 11-v-11, not 11-v-1.
AC: So, I heard that PSAL took a couple of the best soccer players in the league to Spain this summer, you want to tell me a little about it?
VP: Yeah. So PSAL had a couple of tryouts in June, and a Junior boy and girl from every high school tried out. They had two tryouts and eventually picked 17 boys and 17 girls from schools all over the boroughs. We stayed nine days and went to cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Toledo. We visited soccer stadiums like Camp Nou, where we saw FC Barcelona play against UC Sampdoria and saw the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, play. We also went to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium where Real Madrid FC plays. But, along with the soccer aspect of the trip, we visited a lot of museums and did a lot of sightseeing. One of my favorite days was when we took a Bike tour in Madrid. I also made a lot of new friends including my roommate Matthew Pereira, who goes to Thomas Edison High School in Queens. We still talk daily.
AC: Any plans to play soccer in the future?
VP: Yeah, I would love to play D1. That’s the real dream. About going pro, I don’t think that I can pursue that, but who knows anything is possible. You might see my name up in lights someday.
AC: If not soccer what do you look to pursue in the future? Major? Job?
VP: To be honest, I’m not too sure. Something that catches my attention is law, so maybe starting up a law firm, but right now, I’m just living in the moment, trying to get through the season while trying to get into college.
AC: Has there been anyone on MSIT that influenced you?
VP: Well, all of my teammates over the years have been amazing people. But my first friend on the team was Michael Abi-Habib. He helped in the transition from middle school to high school and we’ve been friends ever since. A few more were my co-captain last year Edmond Wong and striker Jacob Karagoz. Playing all three of them was truly an honor and a pleasure.
AC: Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
VP: Yea, I’d like to give a shout out to my girlfriend Emily, who’s captain of the girls’ soccer team. She’s always my number one fan, and when she’s not playing her own games, she is in the stands cheering my name.
Vincent Podolsky and the MSIT Seagulls next home game is on October 19th against New Dorp. MSIT can use all the wins they can get if they are to clinch the number 1 spot on the island, that’s eluded them for so many years. I’d like to thank Vinny for agreeing to do the interview on his day off. This is Adam Chrysostomou signing off.