Cardinal Mooney sophomore Michael Staikos has been playing goalkeeper since he was 9 years old. Although the pressure involved with the position intimidated him at first, he grew to love the challenge. This week, Staikos tells the Sarasota Observer how he plans to continue to grow as a player in the next two years.
How did you get started playing soccer?
I played all sports when I was younger. I played baseball and golf, and soccer was right by my house. It seemed exciting, so I gave it a try, and I really liked it.
How does soccer compare to the other sports you’ve played?
It’s definitely at the top of my list. I’ve played tons of sports. I still play golf.
What’s unique about playing goalkeeper?
There’s a lot of stress, constantly trying to be ready. I like being able to control the game. I was kind of thrown into the position when I was 9. I was scared at first, but I fell in love with it.
Goalkeeper is a position that comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle it?
I just try to work hard no matter what. If I miss one, I just tell myself that I’ll get the next one.
How have you grown as a player over the years?
When I started, I was kind of behind. Now, I just want to keep moving up. I’ve learned to control the game, and I’ve improved my physical skills a lot.
What is your strongest point as a player?
Definitely the mental side. I don’t get down on myself. I used to, but now I just always look ahead. I think it’s incredibly important.
Where do you think you can improve?
I’d like to improve my size. I’m pretty skinny, so I’d like to work on that. I’d also like to work on my control a bit more. I want to continue to grow as a player as high school continues.
What advice would you give to a young soccer player?
Keep working hard at everything you do. You can always be better. Never give up. A lot of people don’t enjoy playing at first. Stick with it, and you’ll find out if you really enjoy it or not. But, don’t give up right away.
Who inspires you?
My parents. They’re originally from South Africa, and they left everything to move over here. My mom always says that you’ll never know what something’s like if you don’t try it.