The Sun’s Jonathan Harris discussed adjusting to Cornell, the men’s soccer team and studying engineering with freshman forward/midfielder Emeka Eneli.
The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
How has your first month at Cornell been?
It’s been exciting. It’s kind of hard to get used to all the little shortcuts around campus, but I feel like after the first three weeks I’ve gotten used to it. Everything has become kind of second nature to me. I love it here.
What was it like scoring your first goal in college?
Honestly it was a surreal moment. Not only was it my first goal but it was also a buzzer beater at the end of the first half.
What was the reaction from head coach John Smith and other players to that goal?
They were ecstatic. Not only for me, but for the team because it really helped us throughout the rest of the game too. We weren’t pinned back as much because we were up two goals instead of one. It gave me a lot of confidence too and the team gained a lot of confidence in me also.
Can you talk a little bit about your background?
I’m from Dublin, Ohio. It’s a suburb of Columbus which is the capital. Dublin is a growing city with about 20,000 to 30,000 people. I went to Dublin Coffman High School which is a public school. We had a student population of about 2,000 which isn’t too small or too big — it was just the right size for me. I was actually born in Lansing, Michigan, but I moved to Ohio when I was about eight years old because my parents got new jobs there. Since then I have lived in Ohio.
What are you studying?
I’m studying biological engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. My sister just graduated with a chemical engineering degree so she’s kind of been the one that’s influenced me the most in what I want to study. I know it’s a big time commitment studying engineering and playing a varsity sport, but if you put the effort into anything you can reap the benefits of it. Any time I have free time in between classes, practices or soccer meetings I always try to get a little bit of homework done or a little extra studying in because I know it’s going to pay off in the long run when I have prelims, finals and my schedule gets even busier.
Who are your favorite professional athletes and why?
Definitely Lionel Messi because he’s a really humble person and I’ve always looked up to him since a young age. He’s not the biggest person and neither am I so I kind of relate to him in that aspect. Everything he does he gives 100 percent so he’s a really good role model to look up to.
How did you decide that Cornell was the right place for you?
I visited here the beginning of my junior year. That’s when I met Coach Smith and other coaches and they toured me around the campus. First, the campus is really beautiful. From the second I stepped foot on campus I loved it. The team here is a great community. It felt like I fit in right away. I knew once I felt that, that’s the place I would want to be. I didn’t really feel that on other campuses with other soccer teams.
What is something about you not many people know?
Since I was 10 I also played basketball, football and tennis. I was a four-sport athlete for a little while I guess until academy when I turned about 14 or 15. Then I stopped playing all the other sports and really focused on soccer.
Can you talk a little bit about this year’s team?
This year’s team is extremely young. There’s 10 freshmen, 11 sophomores, a couple juniors and only one senior. Although we’re young we don’t really lack experience in the sense that we’ve all played in really big games under a lot of pressure.
How did you first get involved playing soccer?
When I was about four years old my mom said she always saw me bouncing a little soccer ball and kicking it around. She said parents would come up to her and say “he has a really good talent with the ball even though he’s only five or six years old.” After that I started playing recreational soccer in Michigan, then we moved to Ohio and I played rec soccer for another two or three years. That’s when I started to really play competitive soccer with a club team, then after the club team I went to play academy soccer. Academy is basically a 10-month investment into soccer, so that’s when I decided I wanted to really pursue soccer instead of any other sports.
Who are the funniest couple of guys on the team?
It definitely has to be [sophomore] Kepler Despinos and [sophomore] Vardhin Manoj. They’re some funny dudes. Same with [sophomore] Harry Fuller, he’s pretty funny. They crack a lot of jokes together.
What do you want to tell the student body about Cornell men’s soccer?
Recently [Cornell men’s soccer] hasn’t been as big of a deal, but trust me this year, or in the next two years we’re going to make big big impact. We’re going to make a name for ourselves.