Working to be the best

“I have grown as a player so much over the years and I have grown confident in my abilities as a player. When I'm on the field I want the ball because I know I can make something happen. I want to be the one that puts it in the back of the net to win,” – St. Mary’s High School’s Luke Szablewski.

It’s the middle of summer. Hitting 80 degrees on most days, high humidity. There you are on the turf working on your game. Taking the extra touches while everyone else is at the beach or the pool. This is your summer vacation.

Your vacation consist of playing as many games as possible. Touching the ball as many times as you can. You can be good if you don’t practice. You can be the best if you aren’t out there suffering for the sport that you love.

Messi doesn’t take a day off. He isn’t the best player in the world because he sat on his behind relaxing. He worked at his game. He worked at being the best – and so do you. So, while everyone else is enjoying their summer, you are proving to people that hard work is paying off.

Only a sophomore Luke Szablewski has big goals, and dreams. He knows what he wants out of this beautiful game we call soccer. Not, the most popular sport in the United States, soccer is starting to grab people’s attention.

The United States men’s team losing, and not qualifying for the World Cup next year, just shows how soccer is starting to gain a foothold in the country. Szablewski has soccer in his blood, he wants to be the best, and even someday play professionally and even get that shot on the national team.

But, first he needs to put in the work and do things that other people aren’t doing. This is going to separate him from everyone else.

“Well my future goals for the season is to win our league for the second year in a row, and to earn first team all catholic at the end of the season,” stated Szablewski. “My long term goal is to play soccer in college for a D1 school and to someday go pro.”

To reach those goals, Szablewski knows he needs to be the best. To be the best he has to play with the best, and that’s why he plays for Global Premier Soccer. One of the best Premier teams in the area, GPS has shaped Szablewski into the type of player that he is.

He has been working hard with the team and coaching to improve his skills around the box. If you don’t work hard, you don’t score goals.

“My club team is GPS (Global Premier Soccer). I am the player I am today because of GPS. The program pushed me to focus on every aspect of the game, especially my footwork and stamina. This is my sixth year playing GPS and each year I grow as a player,” stated Szablewski. “I chose GPS after my travel team Cheektowaga was disbanding. My coach Tom Raczynski thought I was good enough and got me a tryout with GPS. After a 1 on 1 tryout with one of the coaches, I was asked to join their program. I gladly accepted.”

The hard work just didn’t stop there. Szablewski has been putting in the extra work around the box to improve his goal scoring. Being a goal scorer is not easy. You are either the hero or the goat.

Your teams wins it’s because of you most of the time. Your team loses, it’s because of you most of the time. It’s a lose, lose, situation at times. You need to be mentality strong to be a scorer. Szablewski knows it’s the little things that will set him apart from the rest.

That’s why he makes sure he just doesn’t work on his scoring, but also his feet. They say Luca Toni scored a lot of goals because he was nimble on the pitch. For a big guy, Toni had great feet. He was able to get the ball and turn with a defender on top of him and still get the shot away.

That shows the type of scorer Toni was – and he was a late bloomer.

Szablewski wants to be that type of threat. He wants to be more like Cristiano Ronaldo, and even tries to pattern his game after him.

“I pattern my game after Cristiano Ronaldo. He has always been my favorite player because I love how he plays the game, and I pattern my hair after him as well,” stated Szablewski. “I have worked on my speed, my foot work and my 1 vs 1 skill, my height comes naturally from my father. I also have worked on placing the ball and reading not only the defenders, but also the goalie. Having quick feet is super important because in a game I have to make decision in an instant or else I lose the ball, so having quick feet helps me not only make those decisions, but then build a play-off of it.”

It doesn’t hurt either that Szablewski plays with one of the best play makers in all of Western New York in Nino Marino. Marino is a master in the midfield. He has uncanny skills when picking on the right person for the pass. He is the main reason St. Mary’s High School is where they are today.

He also makes Szablewski job easier. When someone can put the ball where you need it, it makes the strikers job that less difficult.

“Nino is a phenomenal player. He is a playmaker and so amazing to watch,” stated Szablewski. “Every time he gets the ball he has a way of knowing what to do to make the play happen. Nino is the reason why I have 16 goals right now. It was an honor to play with him for two years. I will miss playing with him next year.”