By GEOFF MEHL, Staff Reporter
Being an athlete at the University of Michigan-Dearborn normally doesn’t come with a lot of publicity, but a group of nine student athletes have been put center stage on the athletic department banner.
One of the lucky athletes who were able to grace the banner on the website and around campus was Nate Szymkowicz, a junior center back on the men’s soccer team.
Szymkowicz was chosen by his coaches to represent the team after being asked for one of the teams star players.
“It was a little embarrassing at first… I’m just proud to support the Wolverines,” said Szymkowicz.
“It is humbling and an honor to represent the University of Michigan-Dearborn sports. It reminds me to give it my all every game, because now I have to set future examples for our schools sports programs.”
He had an impactful season for UM-Dearborn, playing in 16 of 17 games on a team riddled with injuries. Szymkowicz finished the year with 14 shots and an assist.
He was an integral part of the rising second year program that had its eyes set on the playoffs after a disappointing season in 2012.
“Compared to last fall, this season was much better,” Szymkowicz said. “It was more successful on the stat sheets and we made our goal, which was to make it to the conference championship.”
Even though the Utica native’s stats don’t jump out at you, being a junior on a team composed of mostly freshman and sophomore had a big impact on the young players.
“Having such a young team requires the older players to step up and lead the team,” Symkowicz said. “The freshmen look to us to set the example and we need to set the bar high.”
Off the field, Szymkowicz is putting a lot of work into his education as well. He is a double major in history and political science and finds them very interesting.
“History is timeless,” he said. “There will always be the need for historians to put the pieces of the past back together.”
His quest for a degree also ends with some hefty goals. Symkowicz looks to pursue his education beyond a bachelor degree and plans to go to graduate school or professional school to become a university professor.
Next season the Wolverines soccer team gets a little bit older and more experienced and with a senior Symkowicz, they look to repeat this year’s success with another run to the conference tournament.
“The more we play together, our team chemistry will increase…the younger kids need to be pushed and that’s on me as well as the other upperclassmen.”