Here’s is our latest Q&A with a LIU Brooklyn student-athlete. This time around it’s Sydney Ciufo, who is a junior on the women’s soccer team.
Ciufo is from Pittsford, New York which is just outside of Rochester. She’s majoring in business and has been named to the NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll every year she has been at LIU Brooklyn. If her name rings a bell it’s because she recently scored the game winning goal, the third goal of her college career, in the Blackbirds’ 1-0 victory against Seton Hall.
Brooklyn Eagle Sports: Before we get to anything else, the team is out in Las Vegas so I have to ask — are you having a great time?
Sydney Ciufo: It’s been a blast. We got here on Tuesday and we’ve been spending the week together as a team. Last night we saw the rock of ages show. It was so amazing. We had practice (Wednesday) and we had practice (Thursday). They’ve been short practices though because it’s so hot here and they don’t want us in the sun for too long. It’s kind of strange transition, it’s hotter and dry which is something i’m not used to.
BES: Do you think trips like this help the team on the field at all?
SC: Of course. I think going away we room with different people each trip and that just helps you bond, especially with the freshman. That chemistry off the field it definitely translates to the field. We play much better together.
BES: Why don’t you introduce yourself a little to the readers?
SC: I’m from Rochester, New York. I’m double majoring in business management and marketing. Right now I want to start looking into being a soccer TA so that I can get my masters in business and stick around with the team even after I graduate. So hopefully I can do that after I graduate from LIU.
BES: What was it about LIU that made you want to come to school here?
SC: At first i didn’t want to come to LIU because I always pictured going down south to college. When I came here on a visit I just fell in love with the city though. It’s just so hard to turn down. You get to live here for free while going to school and you just don’t get that experience anywhere else in the world.
BES: Why did you used to think you would go to school in the south?
SC: I just wanted to go to school where the weather would be nicer. I figured I could maybe go to the beach more too if I went to school down south. Now I can’t picture myself anywhere else though. I love the city, the school, and the soccer program. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
BES: How did your recruitment process go?
SC: One of the coaches came to watch one of our state cup games when I was still in high school and after that I started emailing back and forth. Later on, I met (head coach Tracey Bartholomew) one-on-one and after I came on the recruiting visit I made up my mind to come here.
BES: What was the visit like?
SC: It was so much fun. I went with my best friend on the team, Taylor Berardicurti, who I’ve known since 4th grade. We were introduced to the team, shown around the school, we went skating in central park, and hung out with the girls. They were so nice and we had a blast.
BES: Was there much of an adjustment coming from Rochester?
SC: It took some time getting used to. It’s a complete different world coming from Western New York and being in New York City. You just have to be smart about where you are going. Obviously around the school is a safe area, but it’s hard adjusting to your way around. Once you get used to that and know where everything is you feel comfortable and it feels like home.
BES: You were on the All-Northeast Conference Rookie Team so obviously your transition on the field went well. What was it like?
SC: It’s Division-I which is definitely faster and at a more physical level so I think that was hard getting used to freshman year. I think it took me a couple of months before I actually got comfortable. The biggest thing was that it was so much faster. But I was really motivated to earn my spot coming in and that made it easier to adjust. At practice you are just pushing hard and pushing to play with everyone at that same level.
BES: It’s so common to see LIU athletes that are on the honor roll, especially on the men’s and women’s soccer team. How do you make it look so easy?
SC: I think Tracy holds us to high standards with school. We’re students first rather than athletes and we have to make sure we’re doing well. We have different study hall hours that we have to go to. I thought one of the reasons that I wanted to come here is that they put your education before being an athlete, that’s just huge and it’s been very helpful.
BES: What do you expect out of this year’s team?
SC: We did lose a great group of seniors, but we still have a strong team and the talent coming in with the freshman class is unbelievable. We’re hard workers and once the chemistry is there it will show on the field and we’ll be much better.
BES: How did you get into soccer?
SC: I’ve been playing all of my life. Fourth grade is when I started my club team. I was on varsity in high school since my freshman year. I always knew that I wanted to play in college, I was lucky that Tracy came and recruited me.
BES: You’ve played soccer for so long, do you plan on continuing somehow after college?
SC: That’s why I wanted to be a soccer graduate assistant somewhere so I can get my masters and still be apart of this team. Coaching is definitely an option. If I don’t do that, I would at least want to play in one of those women’s league.
BES: Tell me about your goal against Seton Hall.
SC: I was pretty excited just because it was against a big east team. It was at home and it was a great team effort. I think it shows that we made some strides since we lost. We’re already improving and it’s great that we’re going in the right direction.
BES: You mentioned that you have known Taylor Berardicurti for most of your life. How did that happen?
SC: She’s from Rochester too. We met in fourth grade when we were both playing on the same club team. She was recruited first at LIU, we ended up going there and were roommates last year.
BES: Was going to LIU together something you planned or did it just kind of happen?
SC: We didn’t plan it out, it just kind of happened. Maybe it was meant to be. Having her there my freshman year was so helpful. If she wasn’t there I don’t know how I could have gotten through it. I wasn’t home sick too bad, but she was just there to help me out so much.
BES: Last couple of questions, what’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
SC: I love Juniors. Everyone loves their cheese cake, but I love the milk shakes. Chocolate is my favorite.
BES: What is your favorite thing to do in Brooklyn?
SC: I just like walking down by the Brooklyn Heights promenade. It’s such a pretty area. I just go down there sometimes to hang out.
We haven’t been to any concerts yet, we tried to go look at the VMA’s on Sunday. It was insane, there were so many people there. I wish we could have gotten closer.
Thanks to Sydney for taking the time out of her schedule while she and the team are in Las Vegas to talk with me. The Blackbirds are in Vegas for the UNLV Tournament. They will face New Mexico State at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night and UNLV on Sunday afternoon.