Center of Attention

Athletes know at some point in their careers they will need to adapt and change to different situations. It’s the ideal situation at times, especially when they are used to playing the same position for their entire life.

But, if they want to get on the field, then athletes will do what they need to do. At the end of the day, it’s all about being the best teammate possible.

Canisius College soccer player Emily Czechowski had to make a decision when she stepped on campus her freshman year. She could keep playing the role she drew into, and excelled, at Lancaster High School. Or, she could try and learn something new and get on the field much quicker.

For Czechowski the answer was pretty simple – get on the field and help the team achieve their goals. So, Czechowski went from center midfield on high school to the backline in college.

“Freshman year I had to quickly learn the role of being a college center back, and was fortunate enough to be able to obtain a starting spot. I was able to gain a lot of experience and learn from mistakes that I made early on as a freshman, who was able to get a lot of minutes out on the field,” explained Czechowski.” Freshman year we were in a time of transition, we had just gotten a new coach, and we had five ACL tears, so we were left with limited numbers. It was a unique situation where although we wish we had all of our players healthy and available I was able to gain experience which has given me confidence in the player I am today. Talking on the field for me was an uncomfortable job as a freshman but the role of being a center back demands that from you, and the more I talked on the field as a freshman the easier it got for me as my time went on. Now, if you ask my teammates how I am on the field they would probably tell you that I don’t shut up.”

Playing defense wasn’t completely foreign to Czechowski. For years, she played defense for her Premier teams. But, it was at central midfield were she shined. She was able to dominate the competition in high school while playing for Lancaster. Her great vision and other talent allowed her to find the back of the net a few times in her career.

However, she knew to get on the field, Czechowski would have to put prevent goals instead of scoring them.

“At Lancaster I was a center midfielder and I was able to find the back of the net, and also distribute the balls to my teammates,” she said. “The role has changed at Canisius to me playing on the back line. I used to play defense on my Premiere teams, so the position was not all that new to me. Of course it was challenging at the college level. I’ve learned a lot from TC, from experience that I’ve been able to gain on the field, and from learning from older players like Callie Good.”

Most would struggle with making a chance, especially at the collegiate level. But, Czechowski just worked her tail off to make it look like she was there from the very start of her career. She worked day in and day out to show the coaches that she wouldn’t be a liability on the field.

While most would think the hard work came with the ball, they would be wrong. A lot of the work came without ball. Czechowski, as stated earlier, wasn’t the most vocal person on the team. And, sometimes, you can get away with when playing in the midfield.

On the defensive side of the pitch it’s a different story. Defenders need to be vocal and loud. They need to tell other players what’s going on, and them in the right position. A lot goes on during a game that fans might not see, or beware of.

Czechowski just didn’t have to work shutting down a team’s best player, she also needed to work on being more vocal.

“I think one thing I can say about myself is that I am a competitive hard worker. No matter where TC would put me on the field, I have the mentality that I will work as hard as I can to do the best job at fulfilling the role that is demanded of me that day,” stated Czechowski. “As I mentioned before it was uncomfortable of me as a freshman to have to talk and demand from my teammates most of which who were obviously older than me. I learned that I had to talk on the field more than I ever have before or I would let my teammates down.”

Letting her teammates down is something’s that Czechowski has not done in her three years as Griff. Since freshman year, Czechowski has appeared in every game the Blue and Gold. She has even continued to get on the score the sheet.

This year Czechowski has three assists, which ranks her in the top five on the team in points. You might be able to move her to a new position, but she still has a nose for the net.

“The three assists I have this year are from my corner kicks. I have been practicing them since sophomore year and I still do not think that I have perfected them,” stated Czechowski. “I believe I do the easy part of striking a ball into the box. My teammates are the ones who worked hard for me to win the corner kick and who also are the ones battling the other team in the box trying to put the ball in the back of the net. I give them a lot of credit because in previous years we weren’t that great in the air and this year three different people have gotten on the end of my corner kicks and were able to score.”
A Buffalo girl through and through, Czechowski has big plans when she graduates from Canisius in a few years.

“Right now I am a biology major and I know that I want to continue my college career earning a degree somewhere in the health care field. A few ideas I have right now are either pharmacy or physicians assistant,” she said. “I know I want to stay local and maybe go on to DYouville or UB, you just cant take me out of Buffalo.”