Raffi Barsamian ’21.5, from Sherborn, Mass., is in his final semester on the men’s varsity soccer team. In this installment of “Seven Questions,” Barsamian reveals his pregame ritual, what he would tell his younger self and the strategies he uses for balancing school and sports.
JL: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
RB: Right before we leave the locker room to go out to the field, I pull out a small camo Bible that I’ve had forever and read Joshua 1 verses 5–9. These few sentences from scripture clear my head and help me focus before each game. It's a ritual I started my first collegiate game and I’ve done it ever since.
JL: If you could describe your style of play in three words, what would they be?
RB: Simple. Fearless. Passionate.
JL: If you didn't play midfield, what other position would you want to play and why?
RB: I’d probably play center back. It's a position that also suits my style of play. It was my position in high school and I always loved how I could see the whole field and put in hard tackles against whoever I was matched up with.
JL: What has been the greatest challenge for you thus far this season?
RB: We often say that being a Middlebury men’s soccer player is an immense responsibility. This is true in the many ways we conduct ourselves and interact with our teammates, school, and broader communities. With most of the team being new to Middlebury and the program this year, figuring out how to pass on those responsibilities was a really exciting challenge. As the season has developed this team has created an amazing identity of truly embracing our core values and living out what being a Middlebury men’s soccer team represents.
JL: How would you describe the dynamic amongst captains? Do you complement each other? Do you have similar leadership styles?
RB: It’s an amazing honor to be voted captain of a group of people whom I care so much about, and I know my fellow captains Liam Sloan and Michael McFarlane feel the same way. All three of us work together to embody “servant leadership” — serving and empowering those around us for the betterment of our team. It is a leadership style best exemplified by our coaches and one that us leaders try to implement every day. We have an amazing group of guys who are bought in and truly love the program which makes the role of leading so meaningful.
JL: What are some of your personal strategies for balancing school and soccer?
RB: Some people say that they’re most productive in-season because their schedule is more regimented… I am definitely not one of those people. Since I know that I’m going to be unproductive after training or on the bus to away games I try to do my homework during the week in the middle of the day before or after class and before practice. This way, I can use the night to relax, take my mind off soccer and school and get a good night of sleep.
JL: If you could tell your freshman-year self one thing, what would it be?
RB: I would tell myself: don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether that’s academically, athletically or socially. The mature thing to do in those really difficult times is to talk to family, friends or someone who knows how to best support you. And that bottling everything up is only going to delay getting that help.