Thursday's Varsity page includes a Q&A with Poly soccer sweeper Nick Halkias, who comes from a soccer family. His father played professional soccer in his native Greece and his twin brother, George, also plays on the Engineers’ defense. Older brother, Stavros, 19, played football at Poly. Here are more of Nick’s thoughts on soccer and his Greek heritage:
When did soccer become one of your passions?
Around 13. I played competitively and I love the sport, but I started getting into many other sports and I learned to love those sports as well.
What was it about soccer that it finally became your passion?
I find it to be the sport where it takes more of a team to win it. As soon as that whistle blows, it’s a team effort. Your coach might yell something to you from time to time, but you have so much emotion going on and so much adrenaline, you completely ignore that sometimes. But I think it also takes -- I don’t want to undermine football because football takes a lot of physical strength and endurance – but soccer definitely takes the most endurance, because who knows how many miles you run during a game.
What other sports have you played?
I started playing football when I was in the fifth grade. Then in sixth grade, I started playing basketball. I was just a fast learner and became good at it and then I started playing basketball competitively outside of school and I still do. I wrestle for school.
What kind of basketball team do you play for?
It’s called GOYA, Greek Orthodox Youth Association, and what it is is a church league. It consists of Greek kids or you don’t have to have a Greek background, you just have to be a Greek Orthodox Christian. It’s very large. It exists in the whole country. It’s very competitive. People think, ‘Oh you play in a church league,’ but these kids come from DeMatha and all these large schools and it’s hard-nosed.
Have you always been competitive?
Most definitely. I am ridiculously competitive. People say winning isn’t everything, I mean it’s not and there are more important things than winning, but it definitely feels good (laughs).
Are you one of those guys who’s competitive at everything?
Yeah. I play a lot of pick-up football and I play a lot of pick-up basketball and I just want to perform my best.
Are your brothers that competitive too?
Both of my brothers. Sometimes you just play a free-for-all basketball or soccer. Even when it comes down to video games, it’s competitive.
Do you want to play college soccer?
Do I want to? I am dreaming about it.
Are you looking at local colleges mostly?
Towson, UMBC. I don’t want to get in over my head, but I think if I play to my full potential and if I train some more I can make a Division I soccer team. With the coaching, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to get better, but I have no problem playing anywhere else. It’s not like I’m a big shot and only want to play Division I. It’s not like that at all. I just want to play soccer. I would be so grateful just for a partial scholarship.
What are you thinking of majoring in?
I want to get into kinesiology, athletic training, but if I go further in soccer then let it happen, because that’s a dream. If I had the chance, I would play in Greece, because to play in Greece it’s not like in the U.S. You don’t get drafted. You go there and you show what you’ve got and they will tell you right on the spot if you’re good enough. To go to Greece would be like a dream come true.
Do you enjoy having that multicultural background?
It’s what I’m most proud of. Being 100 percent Greek is just the greatest feeling in the world. Of course, I have dreams of playing nationally for Greece. As soon as you’re born, you already have a passion for soccer and all sports in general, seeing that the Greeks are the inventors of the Olympics. I’m just blessed. My father’s from Athens and my mother is from Macedonia.
Are you parents your models?
Yes. They’re the hardest workers in the world, raising three children, working non-stop. My mom works two jobs ... My dad telling me his stories about how he used to play, but back then it was just soccer. All professional meant was that you were skilled enough, you were probably one of the most highly-skilled players in Greece and you had the privilege to play, but now you see players getting ridiculous amounts of money. Back then, that didn’t exist. My father, now, he works like a dog. All he thinks about is us. Same with my mother.
-- Katherine Dunn