This week’s Q&A with a LIU Brooklyn student-athlete is with a sophomore on the men’s soccer team’s, Tanner Sica.
Sica is from Toms River, New Jersey which is a shore town just about 75 miles from campus. He played in all 18 games as a freshman last season and has played in all 13 games so far this season. He had three goals last year and has one goal and one assist so far this season including a goal during a 2-0 win against Manhattan College on Sept. 13.
Brooklyn Eagle Sports: How was it that you came to LIU Brooklyn?
Tanner Sica: One of the coaches emailed me after one of my showcases for academy soccer. Eventually I came here on an official visit and was able to hangout with the team for two nights. The guys were awesome, I fit in really easily and the team and coaches really sold me on coming here.
BES: Was was their sales pitch?
TS: They basically told me that everyone is a family here. We’ve all got each other’s back, we’re a hard working team, we do stuff off the field, like community service, which I’m interested in, we lift with a strength coach to stay healthy all year around and obviously New York City is the best city in the world, I couldn’t pass that up, overall the coaches, players and environment, it made me feel really comfortable.
LIU was heavily recruiting me, that’s who I stayed in contact most of the time. They seemed really interested, as soon as they offered me the visit I accepted right away. I wanted to see what it was about. The coaches are awesome and they made me feel comfortable.
It was awesome. I made a lot of good friends.
BES: Were there any other schools that you were considering?
TS: I talked to a few, I spoke with Monmouth, who was in the conference at the time, spoke with Lafayette, Rutgers, North Carolina Wilmington, but LIU made me feel like not just a number. They really cared and it showed. That’s how I made my decision.
BES: Was it a difficult decision in the end?
TS: It was difficult deciding whether I wanted to stay close to home or go further away. At first I wanted to go far, but then I changed my mind because my family is really into coming to the games. When I visited LIU it wasn’t too far or too close. Overall, it’s about an hour and 10 minute drive. After my first official, I enjoyed it a lot and I couldn’t turn it down.
BES: You don’t live far from Brooklyn, do you have any family here or had you come here often when you were younger?
TS: No family here. I visited new york a few times when I was younger, but I hadn’t been here a lot. It’s totally different from Tom’s River. I like that change.
BES: What was your rookie season like? Was it a tough transition from high school soccer?
TS: The transition from playing academy soccer and high school to the Division-I level is really tough. I played a lot last year as an 18 year old kid playing against seniors and juniors and it wasn’t easy. The overall level of play, the strength and quickness, I had to adapt my game. I had to keep up and I was able to get my name out there as a guy who worked hard and I think that’s a big part of why I played so much. Everything like that was mind blowing at first though. It was like, ‘ this is no joke’.
BES: It says your undeclared on the team’s website. Have you selected a major yet? Do you have plans yet for after college?
TS: Yes. I’m a health science major. My goal is definitely to continue playing soccer after I graduate. I want to keep developing my game and eventually play professional. That’s what I want to do.
BES: What was adapting to Brooklyn itself like?
TS: It was kind of hard in the beginning. Brooklyn always has something going on. People are everywhere. Getting used to the train and getting around places was a little difficult and different. The older guys helped though which was good because it was hard to adapt to at first, but now I love it.
BES: With soccer and a new city, was it hard to focus on school early on?
TS: I feel like it takes a little bit of adjustment for everyone, but a lot of the guys helped out. My roommate was great, studying with him, going to classes with him. He helped me to stay on track, always trying to help each other. We have study halls once or twice a week where we focus on academics and get away from the game. It wasn’t that bad. It’s definitely different from high school.
School work is a big thing for us. We all care about our academics and we’ve been nationally ranked by our GPA. It’s a standard, we want the younger guys coming up to know that. We want to continue that standard of doing well on and off the field because it’s going to benefit in the long run (Tanner was a member of the NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll so the short answer could have been no).
BES: The team got off to a rough start this year with one victory in its first eight games, but now you’ve won four out of five and are on a bit of a roll. Tell me about the team’s progression:
TS: We had a little shaky start, out in California it’s totally different over there. It was a lesson to learn. It really helped us out though, the beginning of the season was about finding our formations, how we wanted to play, and I feel like we finally have it down. We’re really ready for the upcoming NEC schedule. Everyone is really excited. We have a few home games coming up still this season.
It’s really tough. We always, when things don’t go well, we get the team together and it’s on our back, but we have to take what we didn’t do well and change that immediately for the next game. A lot of that comes from getting together and watching film. Going over notes. Not getting down on yourself, but fixing those mistakes so they don’t happen again. LIttle mistakes in this game can cost you. It’s about not grieving about the loss, but taking the good and fixing the bad. LIU think we’ve done this really well. We’ve been doing that and we feel that it’s working.
BES: You’ve got to feel pretty good that you are playing your best right as the NEC portion of your schedule kicks off too…
TS: The non conference games, it’s not like they don’t matter, but they’re obviously games for us to figure out things together as a group. Those games are really to get us ready for conference. That’s where it really matters. It is a lot different because a lot of those non-conference teams you don’t face every year and the in-conference teams we are able to take what we know from the past, from last year, and figure out what they are going to do and base what we do around that. Conference makes it easier on us to come up with a game plan.
BES: You guys finish your season against St. Francis Brooklyn, but the game is at home and not their brand new field right on the water. Are you glad to have the home field advantage or do you want to check out that new field?
TS: That field is awesome. We haven’t practiced down there, but some of the guys, especially when they first put it in, we’d go down there to mess around. It’s beautiful with the water around it.
BES: By the way, how big is that game for you guys?
TS: It’s pretty big. We call it the Battle of Brooklyn. Obviously it’s a pretty big game for us. They’re right down the street from us so there is always going to be a bit of a rivalry because of it. Unfortunately this year’s game is not on the brand new field, but it’s nice to be home.
BES: What’s the game you have had circled on your calendar all year?
TS: For me personally, to play Fairleigh Dickinson because of the success they had last year. They were the underdogs going into the NCAA tournament. They were able to beat St. John’s which is a really good school. It’s a big school that we are really excited to play.
BES: What is your favorite thing to do in Brooklyn?
TS: My favorite thing to do in Brooklyn is anytime I just to go out with the team, the guys, to get some food, hangout and walk around. There are so many things to see. Anything team oriented hanging out and showing the younger guys our favorite spots.
BES: Do you have a favorite place to go eat?
TS: Usually when we have recruits we go right across the street to Junior’s. They’re famous for their cheesecake and it’s really good food right across the street. It’s always fun going there every once and a while.
BES: How else do you spend your free time?
TS: Just hangout with my friends, play FIFA on X-Box and listen to music. Back home, I live right by Seaside (Heights, New Jersey) so I’m always at the beach. When I’m away from soccer and school I just like having fun.
BES: Being so close to home, do you get a lot of family at your games?
TS: Oh yeah. My mom and dad come to almost every home game. In the beginning of the season we flew out to California and my dad actually flew out and came to see us play in Cali both times. He’s really into it. My little brother (Nick Sica) just committed to LIU and he’s coming to play soccer next year. My parents are really happy about that because now they get to see us both play.
BES: Your brother is coming to LIU? How’d that happen? Who convinced him?
TS: I kind of didn’t want to influence him so I kind of let him do it on his own, but the coaches knew that I had a brother that played for the same academy team that I did. They saw him in a showcase in Texas or Arizona. He has his recruiting visit next weekend so I’ll be hosting that. I wanted to be sure that he picked a place that he wanted to go. It just so happened that he had the same feelings about the school I did and felt comfortable the same way I did. I’m real excited about, he’s a real good player.
BES: Let’s stoke some sibling rivalries — who is the better player?
TS: (Laughing) I don’t know, he’s a center back, I play center mid, he’s 6-foot-2, a lot taller than I am, he’s real strong and a real good player. He’s definitely going to help us out.
BES: What did you tell him about LIU before he committed?
TS: He asked me about the school and what I thought about it. I was completely honest. I told him what I liked and disliked, but him coming here and hanging out with us I think that was bigger for him than anything I said.
BES: Have you played with your brother before? What was it like for you?
TS: It’s incredible. I played my senior year with him and it was awesome. There isn’t much to dislike about it. We’re very close and when you have that brother/best-friend bong where you are on the same page and are always communicating it’s a really good thing and it helps a lot in soccer.
It seems like these things get longer every time I do one. A big thanks to Tanner for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to catch the Blackbirds the rest of this season as they have a couple more home games coming up including one on Friday against Bryant at 4:00 p.m. at LIU Field. Bryant beat them 4-1 last season so hopefully they can get some revenge this time around. Click here to read our past Q&A’s with LIU Brooklyn student-athletes.