Monday, May 17, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Presiado Finds His Passion on the Pitch


Gianmarco Presiado is a lifelong soccer fan who is looking forward to a productive senior season with the Yellowjackets. Photo courtesy of Gianmarco Presiado

Gianmarco Presiado is a lifelong soccer fan who is looking forward to a productive senior season with the Yellowjackets. (Photo courtesy of Gianmarco Presiado )

Gianmarco Presiado watched a lot of Real Madrid soccer matches with his father Juan as a child, but the idea of playing the sport didn’t really interest him. However, Gianmarco’s dad encouraged him to get on the pitch and he obliged, beginning a journey that would take Gianmarco to the boys’ soccer team at East Haven High School.

Gianmarco started competing in East Haven’s Youth Soccer program when he was five. Gianmarco’s love for the sport grew alongside his skills as the years went by. Now, as he begins his senior year, Gianmarco is poised to be a major contributor for the Easties during the 2020 season.

“My father was my No. 1 motivator to play soccer,” says Gianmarco. “My father would always watch it, so I would enjoy watching it, but I never wanted to play. He kept persuading me to play, and I decided, ‘I’ll try it out.’ I ended up falling in love with the game.”

Gianmarco played in the East Haven youth league until he was eight. He then started competing in the travel soccer ranks and continued doing so as he entered Joseph Melillo Middle School. Oftentimes, Gianmarco would finish school and immediately go to a travel practice. Once he started playing travel, Gianmarco’s love for soccer skyrocketed.

“It was almost like a therapy for me,” Gianmarco says. “It was something I could use to distract me from anything going on in life. It cleared my mind from everything else, and it was just something I can enjoy.”

Gianmarco didn’t join the Yellowjackets during his freshman year. After graduating from middle school, Gianmarco wanted to take some time to work on his soccer skills before he signed up for the high school team. As a sophomore, Gianmarco started playing for Shoreline FC in the state’s Premier circuit.

In his junior year at East Haven, Gianmarco felt like he was ready to contribute for the Yellowjackets. He joined the varsity squad and made an instant impact on both ends of the field. Although the team struggled, Gianmarco gained an understanding of what it takes to compete at the varsity level, while starting to build a connection with his teammates.

“It was a little tough. We had some good talent individually, but it was a little hard on the team. We had a new coach, we had new players, everything was new,” says Gianmarco. “It was the first time we played together as a team, but it was a really good start into what we have this year. Everyone has put in the hard work and effort to just be better. I have a lot of faith in this team.”

Mike Papantonio was introduced as the head coach of East Haven boys’ soccer for Gianmarco’s junior campaign. Papantonio was impressed with the grit that Gianmarco displayed on the field, as well as his leadership away from it. This year, Papantonio plans on having Gianmarco play wherever the team needs him based on the situation.

“I don’t know if Gianmarco is going to be a kid that has one set position. He’s an aggressive player, he understands positioning, and he understands the game well. He is going to be one of our bigger, stronger guys,” Papantonio says. “Going from junior to senior year, you can just kind of see he has matured not only physically, but emotionally, psychologically, and the way he wants to approach this year. He is making the most of it, and the coaching staff is impressed.”

While there are challenges that come with playing different positions, Gianmarco is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to help East Haven succeed. Whether it’s on offense or defense, Gianmarco can play any spot and trusts Coach Papantonio’s judgment in determining his ideal position for each match.

Gianmarco feels that two of his greatest assets on the pitch are his communication skills and his never-give-up mentality.

“I communicate a lot with the team. I’m probably the loudest player on the field. I like to communicate with my teammates,” Gianmarco says. “I never give up. Even if I make a mistake, even if I lose the ball, I’m going to make sure I get that ball back. I always want to win and keep moving forward.”

While the thought of playing soccer wasn’t always appealing to Gianmarco, the sport wound up becoming much more than just a hobby for him. Gianmarco says that soccer is now an essential part of his existence.

“My passion for the game is crazy,” says Gianmarco. “At first, it really wasn’t for me, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve just created a bond. It’s my life.”

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