Sports Person of the Week
Sawicki Excited for Senior Soccer Season
Anthony Sawicki is pumped up to begin his senior season as a member of the East Haven boys’ soccer team. (Photo courtesy of Anthony Sawicki)
Anthony Sawicki has been playing soccer in East Haven throughout the past decade. As he enters his senior year of high school, Anthony feels excited to be back on the pitch and competing with the Yellowjackets.
Anthony started playing soccer in East Haven’s rec league when he was eight. Anthony was introduced to the sport by one of his neighbors, and the two of them would often play together. Anthony found that he enjoyed the sport and decided to start playing competitively.
“When I was little, my neighbor played soccer. I would play with him, and I really enjoyed it. So, I started playing,” Anthony says. “I just loved being out on the field. It was a good feeling every time I would step on the field and play. I was always around all my friends and kids I knew. We were all doing the same thing and having fun.”
Anthony joined East Haven’s travel team in 5th grade. He continued playing travel from 6th to 8th grade, while also competing for the team at Joseph Melillo Middle School. Anthony loved playing soccer as he grew up, and the experience gave him a sense of what he would need to do to succeed at the high school level.
Anthony joined the East Haven boys’ soccer squad as a freshman and spent most of the year with the JV team, although he was called up to varsity and started a couple of games. During his first year with the Easties, Anthony learned about the importance of proper conditioning and how being a great soccer player goes beyond what you do during the game.
“Conditioning was something we never really did when we were little, but now, it’s really important,” says Anthony. “You have to be fit to play at this level.”
Anthony became a varsity starter in his sophomore year, but suffered an injury in a JV game that forced him to miss a portion of the season. Anthony had been playing on the defensive side of the ball prior to the injury. In his first game back, Anthony moved up to offense and scored a varsity goal versus Lyman Hall.
“It felt nice. I was still new to high school and was playing with the bigger kids. It was a big challenge for me,” Anthony says of playing varsity. “Before the injury I was playing defense. When I came back, I was asked to play offense, and I was able to score that goal.”
Switching positions was hardly a new thing for Anthony. He’s played all ends of the pitch throughout his soccer career, including a stint as a goalie during his travel years. Anthony prides himself on being a versatile player and often watches professional games in order to raise his soccer IQ.
“It’s all about working hard. If I’m working hard, no matter where I am, I’m going to be able to do whatever I need to do,” says Anthony. “I watch soccer every day. I know how all these big teams are playing. I see each position and what their role is on the field. I just understand the game so easily.”
Anthony’s sophomore season marked East Haven’s first year with Head Coach Mike Papantonio. With 11 players having graduated from last year’s team, Coach Papantonio and the Yellowjackets are looking to Anthony for leadership this season. After watching Anthony mature the past few years, Papantonio feels that confident that the senior is up to the challenge.
“This is my third year with Anthony. It’s nice to see a player mature, and it has been nice to develop a relationship that has grown over the course of his high school career,” Papantonio says. “Anthony has truly grown into a leadership role. He knows what my expectations are and what we’re trying to do with the program. He has bought in, and he is going to be a premier leader for the team going forward.”
As East Haven gets ready for the 2021 season, Anthony has been helping to organize practices for the team. The Yellowjackets have been doing conditioning with Coach Papantonio on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on their off days, Anthony has made an effort to get as many teammates as possible to come out and get in some extra reps. With a young team, Anthony wants to make sure that everyone is ready to go when the first whistle blows.
“I try to have the whole team go out every day. On the off days, we go up to the high school by ourselves, practice, and have some fun,” says Anthony. “This year, we lost a lot of seniors, but we gained a lot of freshmen. Everyone has a lot of weight to pull. We’re going to play a lot of tough teams this year. The only way we’re going to win is if we’re staying together and staying fit.”
Having played for the sport for several years in his hometown, soccer has become one of the most important things in Anthony’s life. Anthony feels that there is no safer haven than being on the field in East Haven.
“Soccer is my favorite thing to do. It’s what makes me happy. Whenever I’m playing soccer, I don’t feel like there’s ever a time where I’m not happy,” Anthony says. “When I step on the field, I’m able to let go of everything off the field and focus on getting better as a soccer player.”