Point Park men's soccer team thriving with diverse lineup
By Mike Palm
Published: Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 12:32 a.m.
It didn't long for Jonty Loukes to make the switch from English English to American English.
After working at several camps in Pittsburgh, the freshman midfielder from Sheffield, England, quickly learned that a bib is a pinnie, boots are cleats and — the big one — football is actually soccer here.
“If I went home and said, ‘Grab a pinnie' or something like that,” he said, “I would get destroyed by my buddies back home.”
Despite the minor vocabulary issues, Loukes may have had one of the easiest transitions of the diverse roster of the Point Park men's soccer team.
The Pioneers feature players from 14 countries, with 11 of the top 16 hailing from outside the United States. The roster spans five continents, with only Australia and Antarctica not represented.
“At first it was hard to get a bond between the team because we had so many different nationalities, so many different cultures,” Loukes said. “We had to get used to each other.”
It's seemingly worked, as the Pioneers (10-6-0) received the top seed in the KIAC/GCAC tournament. A 4-1 victory over Talladega (Ala.) on Thursday moved Point Park into the championship game Saturday, where the Pioneers can clinch an NAIA national tournament bid for the first time in program history.
The influx of international players has helped the program improve from five straight losing seasons from 2006-10 to a 12-5-1 finish and a trip to the American Mideast Conference championship game last year.
Senior midfielder Alex Sala, who hails from Weiler, Austria, found Point Park through a European agency that helps match players with scholarships. And he wouldn't hesitate to recommend coming to the states or making the same choice again.
Besides minor cultural differences — language isn't an issue because most speak fluent English — the biggest adjustment players have to make is being thousands of miles from home and their support systems.
“I had to do it pretty much on my own,” Sala said. “At home it was all handed to me by family, parents, friends. Here you have to build up your own life, build everything up again on your own. And that's definitely helpful to me as a person. I wouldn't want to miss this experience.”
Coach Jeroen Walstra, a native of the Netherlands, hasn't exclusively targeted international players, but he is seeking to expand his global footprint even farther, to the Far East and beyond.
“Antarctica. Yeah, that would be really good,” Walstra said. “I'll take a couple penguins. Why not?”
Mike Palm is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- District college notes: Seton Hill’s Gattuso receives honor
- Burrell alum Josh Hanna a part of historic football season at Gallaudet
- Knoch’s McTighe making mark at Lafayette
- Former Gateway star off to a fast start for Thiel
- District college notes: St. Vincent’s Ligus gets another honor
- Knoch grad McTighe helps Lafayette football make history
- Plum grad Pietropola off to a successful start in Penn State-Behrend pool
- Jeannette’s Paulone ends college football career
- Ward making her mark at WCCC
- PSNK opens conference play with loss
- Cal U women top Mercyhurst, 71-66