Catching up with soccer-star Justin Gadalla ‘20
How did you first get into playing soccer? Did other sports pique your interest growing up?
“I started out playing soccer when I was about 3 years old, just in a little rec league in San Diego, nothing too competitive. I began playing competitive club soccer around age 8, and continued to do so all the way through high school. During middle school and high
school I also ran cross country and track and field.”
That’s a long time to be playing – any notable injuries?
“Thankfully no notable injuries.” [knocks on wood]
Did you have any athletic idols growing up? Has your idol changed over the years?
“One huge idol I had growing up was my sister. She’s five years older than I am, and has played soccer from a young age as well. I remember always going to watch her soccer games and wanting to be as good at soccer as she was. Although she no longer plays soccer, she continues to be an idol for me today.”
How did you realize that you wanted to play college ball? What was that process like?
“I knew I wanted to play college soccer probably since I knew what college was. [laughs] I loved soccer so much as a kid and never gave any thought to a time when I wouldn’t be playing it so I guess college ball was always assumed, not to be cocky though like obviously I knew I had to work super hard to get there.”
You play striker for CMS now – have you always played this position?
“I’ve actually alternated a lot between playing striker and center mid throughout my career, and consider myself no stranger to either one.”
What is your favorite moment with the Stags so far?
“Probably the first time I met all the people I would soon be able to call my family.”
How is it now that there are more Mudders on the team?
“Honestly I love it. Our coach has always been super active in recruiting highly academic people, and the fact that the college itself is allowing more athletes to be accepted is phenomenal. I really feel it brings a new element of diversity to the team, which has been largely dominated by a CMC-centric culture.”
During the fall season, how do you manage multiple hours of soccer a day and never-ending homework?
“It’s a struggle sometimes. From day one there is no real time to adjust. You are just thrown into the thick of things, expected to balance it all. You get used to it though. You find a pattern of when to do work and you stick to it. Probably the most difficult times are during midterms when you have to balance everything on top of studying for midterms.”
How does the spring semester compare with the fall semester? What is the commitment like off-season?
“Honestly there isn’t that much of a difference between spring and fall seasons. We train everyday still, albeit on our own rather than with our coach, it’s just more relaxed and we have slightly more free time, although it doesn’t feel like it sometimes with the Mudd workload. We’re still expected to be as committed to the program in the off season as we are in season.”
What is your favorite class? Do you see connections between your experiences in class and on the field?
“Definitely anything CS related. I do see some similarities in the two, especially in regards to the way you think about things. Soccer requires you to think outside of the box a lot, to analyze a situation and create a way to accomplish what you want to accomplish, similar to the way you would create a program. There is no one right way to create a program, just like there is no one right way to play soccer, which is one reason I love soccer and CS.”
What is your favorite Hoch [Mudd dining hall] meal? Any off-campus meals that you would recommend?
“Best Hoch meal would have to be wet burrito night on Sundays. Would also highly highly recommend wing Wednesday at Pitzer.”
If you were anyone in the world for a day, who would you be and what would you do?
“Anyone not at Mudd, so that I might get a respite from problem sets.”