Men’s soccer player Niko Roros was traveling from a game in Detroit when he got the message that would change his life.
Roros, who had played soccer in Italy in 2018, had caught the eye of the Soccer Management Institute, a leader in training soccer players and coaches.
After an interview process, Roros signed on to get his masters in coaching at the Italy-based school.
“I was the first one to be accepted and sign this year,” Roros said.
Roros, a liberal studies major concentrating in international marketing, is a graduating senior at Point Park. Ever since joining the university in 2017, he has been a goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team, coached several women’s soccer teams in the area and served as an influencer for GNC.
He has dedicated much of his time to learn more about soccer. His love for soccer started when he was four years old. A Baltimore native, Roros had the unique opportunity of being mentored by professional players from a young age, including Adauto Neto and Sagu, who both played for the Baltimore Blast team.
“They used to take me to practices with them when it was kind of closed, and I actually got to go down to the field and grab balls for them and help them set up drills for the goalkeepers,” Roros said. “That was who I always looked to. I would always go to the games and watch them play. If they were away, I would watch them play. I’m fortunate enough to have them in my life as friends now who I can always go to for advice.”
From there Roros started playing, and his coach picked him out as a goalkeeper. He also became involved in coaching men’s soccer teams in Baltimore before he began coaching women’s teams in the Pittsburgh area.
Notably, he was an assistant women’s soccer coach last year, and he is the head coach for Women’s Club Soccer at the University of Pittsburgh. He also helps out with GK Icon, an organization that helps train goalkeepers, and this year he is the rush ambassador for GNC.
Roros admitted his commitments can be time-consuming, but he said he learned a lot by taking advantage of the opportunities that have come his way.
“As a player, I’ve gotten a lot better since my time here, but it’s also great to be a part of a great team this season,” Roros said. “We did very well as a team and as a whole unit, going 15-3 and getting the best record in school history so far. It’s great just to be a part of that as a player. As a coach, I’ve also grown as an individual working with youth teams in the area and college teams. It’s just been great to kind of learn the game a lot more and to a greater extent.”
Roros said his experience in playing and coaching helped get him signed onto the Soccer Management Institute. There, he hopes to get his masters, play professionally and get his UEFA license in addition to his USSF D License and GK Levels 1, 2 and 3.
Although his friends and family were initially excited about his news, he said they are concerned about his going to Italy in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak which has put the entirety of Italy under lockdown.
Roros said he was not worried because he is leaving at the end of August, but he and officials at the institute are monitoring the situation.
“We’re keeping a close eye on it, and safety is a big thing so if it’s not safe for me to go then they’ll advise me that way and then we’ll postpone till whenever it is safe,” Roros said. “In the meantime, I am planning to leave on-time.”
In the summer, he plans on organizing and recruiting for the Baltimore branch of the U-23 Women’s National Soccer Team, and they will go semi-professional.
“When I was growing up playing, I had people I could look to as mentors,” Roros said. “So I want to be able to be that person someone looks to for inspiration because for that situation to happen was very life-changing for me.”
Ultimately, Roros wants to play professionally and then be a coach for a professional team.
So far in his career, he has very much enjoyed being a goalkeeper.
“You’re either the hero or the villain,” Roros said. “It’s always fun to be the go-to guy like if you make the big save and you win the game; or if you miss it it’s your fault that you lost. So I kind of like the high pressure.”
Even though he dedicated much of his life to soccer, even Roros had a moment of doubt if his professional career would continue a few years back.
“There was a rough patch I had when I was in junior college,” Roros said. “I had a concussion, I got in a car accident and then the following year was very tough, so there was a point where I wasn’t sure if I would be playing ever for the level. I was fortunate enough to be put in a good situation. I was able to meet with Coach Walstra who happened to sign me to come here [at Point Park].”
WHAT MAKES YOU A PIONEER: “[My team goes] out onto the field, and every day, whether it be training or a game, we all fight and play for the same purpose—that’s first to win and represent the school in the best way possible, so kind of that common goal among myself and my teammates and all athletes here, we all fight for the same thing: to win the River States Championship and move onto nationals and win that. That’s what unites us as athletes and as pioneers.”