Soccer star senior Chris Nicola successfully completed his “Road to Recovery,” returning from his ACL injury and committing to play soccer at the University of North Carolina. The Howler catches up with Nicola to discuss his path on the newly minted “Road to Glory.”
Armin Abaye and Derek Kim: We know that you have committed to play collegiate soccer at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. What other schools tried to recruit you?
CN: I had the ACL injury last year during prime recruiting time, so most colleges had already finished recruiting, but I was talking to Wake Forest and the University of Portland. I was also talking to Stanford for a little bit and also University of Washington.
AA and DK: And UNC was the only school that stuck with you?
CN: Yeah. They always showed interest. They flew out to see my family, meet my parents and my siblings. My brother’s going there next year, so that’s a huge thing that pulled me there more than the other schools.
AA and DK: What is “Road to Recovery?”
CN: “Road to Recovery” was pretty much just this thing that kept me going. It was my motivation. I was pretty depressed about being injured. I was out for like eight months before I played another game. It helped me push forward and keep going through the hard times of the injury.
AA and DK: The new mantra is “Road to Glory.” What does that mean?
CN: It pushes me to get through to the next level. So when I started playing again, “Road to Glory” was just my spot back, and when I got my spot back, “Road to Glory” was getting the right college. Well, I found that college, so now “Road to Glory” is trying to get to the pros. Whether it’s before college or after the first year hopefully. I think I’m aware that there are different subsets to “Road to Glory.”
AA and DK: What does “Road to Glory” look like moving forward?
CN: So now coming to the end of the school year, I have a trial for Bradford City, a second division team in Europe. It’s a two-week trial, which is pretty much a tryout to make it, and if I make it, I’ll be at their academy next year. If not, then I’ll play at UNC and then hopefully get drafted the next year. If not, I’ll play the next couple years and get drafted after that.
AA and DK: What is your greatest strength as a soccer player?
CN: Well, not that many soccer players have been through what I have been through with the injury and coming back as strong as I have. In games, I am vocal and a leader. I’m good in the air. I do my job. When they really need me, that’s when I come out and shine.
AA and DK: Where do you see yourself in three, five and seven years?
CN: In three years, I see myself as a professional soccer player. At five years, I see myself in the Premier League, which is the first division in Europe. In seven years, I just wanna be one of the best players in the world.