Name: Yanni Hatzistefanis
Team: B01/02 Black
Number of Years at Copa: 3
HS: Spotswood High School
HS Honors: All County, Conference Championship, Honor Roll
Coaches at Copa: Andrew Santos, Billy Englishby
College Attending: Marywood University
Conference: Eastern College Athletic Conference
Anticipated Major: Illustration(major), Business(minor)
Quote about a specific coach:
Coach Andrew is probably the most influential coach I've had. That is because he isn't like any teacher/coach I've had before - he is so demanding of his players and takes pride in his work, really enjoys seeing improvement in his players, which translates to us to improve as players and people a lot, and I will always thank him for that.
What are your most memorable moments or experiences at FC Copa Academy?
I remember joining at the beginning of the 2017 spring season, and being on the EDP team that half season I really enjoyed myself, the play, the team, the coach, and the whole feel of playing on that team. I really found my form and grew as a player and I'll always remember and be grateful for that team.
The goal was to make the NL team though, and I remember the combined feelings of joy, relief, excitement, but also a heavy sense of personal responsibility and an eagerness to improve myself even more when my dad told me I made the NL team that fall.
Since then there have been ups and downs, but between fun futsal seasons, a game winning goal in the Jefferson Cup from 25 yards out last spring, learning after every time playing, a brotherhood I have continued to expand on every time I play with my team, and late nights and early mornings training by myself for this game and team, there have been a lot of great moments in these years here.
How did FC Copa Academy help you become the player you are today?
In terms of what the club itself has done, the two most direct acts would be choosing the right coaches that have helped make me the player I am today, and putting our team up against the best competition week in week out between tournaments, cups, and leagues that have improved me.
But since the coaches are a part of the club, I would have to thank them the most. Coach Andrew, I have never seen a coach - especially at a youth level - this committed to his players. We have butted heads throughout our time, but there has always been a strong healthy player/student-coach/mentor relationship. It is very hard to find a coach or even teacher anywhere in life that cares so much.
How did FC Copa Academy help you get into the college program you will be attending?
Well actually it was pretty simple in the final stages in deciding Marywood. It was Coach Andrew in the spring who told the team about how he knew Coach Velasco and how he suggested some kids from the team go to a clinic up at the campus. Funny enough, my name wasn't on the list of players that Coach Velasco was interested in initially, but I ended up taking a chance on it and was the only kid on the team that went to it and luckily they liked me as a player and I loved the campus and the current situation of the soccer program and it all worked out. So I have Coach Andrew to thank for that part. But locking in the commitment is all thanks to Coach Lori and Coach Roberto who made the phone call for me that secured an offer from Coach Velasco. But all these years at the club, the demanding attitude of everyone at the club towards us striving to find a college was overwhelming at times but necessary I think and I am very appreciative of how the coaches, especially Coach Andrew (because I was just around him more than any other coach) was on top of us to be on our college emails to coaches and remind us that being at this club is so we can commit to a college.
Share your thoughts and experiences on the collegiate recruitment process with FC Copa.
Sophomore and junior year, there was a lot of going to college recruitment meetings/seminars run by the club, and a LOT of emails sent to college coaches before tournaments. I think the end was pretty simple, and I made a decision pretty early, but from my experience, once there is a realistic option of a school you want to attend, it is imperative that a player emails Coach Lori or Coach Roberto about scheduling a college meeting with them.
What advice would you give to future FC Copa Academy athletes going through the collegiate recruitment process?
I made a decision pretty early, but that's also because I did a lot of work for myself early on before it got late. Do the work early: send emails to at least 10 coaches of schools you are somewhat interested in, or not even interested in, before every tournament and follow up with them. Go on visits and try to learn what you would like to pursue as a major to help narrow down where you want to go. If you don't know, stay patient, put the work in, and it'll come. And when you have a good idea and are sure about one or even a few schools, schedule a meeting with Coach Lori and Coach Roberto.