This week The Mac Weekly caught up with sharpshooting midfielder Alan Schembri-Wismayer ’17 (Rochester, Minn.) to talk about soccer, Macalester and Malta. Schembri-Wismayer’s goal against St. Scholastica on Sept. 14 with 11 seconds remaining on the clock won the game for the Scots in a thrilling fashion, evening Macalester’s record to 3-3. Schembri-Wismayer has three goals and one assist so far this season.
How’d you get started with soccer and how does playing at Mac compare to playing in high school?
Alan Schembri-Wismayer: I lived in Europe, in Malta, for seven years. All of my friends started playing so I kind of forced my parents into [letting] me play. Since I started, I loved it. Then we moved here [to Rochester, Minn.] in 7th grade and I switched positions from defense to midfielder. The level here [at Macalester] is way higher than it is in high school. Everyone’s a lot bigger, a lot faster.
What was it like playing in Malta?
ASW: At a younger age it’s more competitive—the coaches there are a little bit harsher and they push you to go a little bit harder, whereas, especially in Minnesota, it’s like “Minnesota nice”—the coaches don’t yell at you that much. I mean they’re pretty much the same; it’s just a different playing style.
How did Macalester come onto your radar?
ASW: One of my friends from high school, Brian Utz [‘16], goes here. I played tennis with him. I knew about the school because of him, and then Gregg [Olson], the soccer coach, had sent me an email letting me know about it. So I came and I visited. I really liked the campus and the academics.
Do you know what you’re going to major in?
ASW: I think Biology.
How have you been able to balance academics, extracurriculars and sports at Macalester?
ASW: It’s tough, but once you find the balance it’s actually really simple. You just have to make sure you stay on top of things because [the academics are] the hardest part.
Last season was kind of a tough season for the soccer team. What do you think about this season? What are your hopes and expectations?
ASW: From what I’ve heard at least, from the guys talking and the coach, we’ve gotten better, apparently not only skill-wise, but even mentality-wise. Everybody’s a lot more determined to win, and I think we’ve all just connected really well.
You had a pretty cool game-winning goal the other day. How did your teammates react to that and how did you feel after that?
ASW: I mean obviously it feels good to score a goal, but even better when it’s so close to the game ending. The teammates around me, they just went nuts after it, mostly just because it was a team goal. It wasn’t any one individual. It was passes, passes, and then Dylan [Wong ‘16] just gave me a perfect ball and I was lucky to be there.
How are the coaches helping you to get acclimated to Macalester and playing soccer here?
ASW: Obviously soccer is always intense, and we’ve got a certain schedule, but that schedule is well rounded; it still gives us time to work on school.
Have you found the workouts are more difficult here [than in high school]?
ASW: Preseason was tough. Preseason was a lot more than I was expecting. But it was good. It got us all in shape.
Any moments that someone said something to you that made you think differently about sports, competition or soccer in general?
ASW: Not really. I mean, Coach [Olson] is always talking to us about how everybody’s got to try their best, how everybody’s got to bring energy to the team. One of the reasons why I like Mac soccer in particular is that it’s not just one player; it’s the whole team. Everybody’s got to work just as hard as everybody else.
How have you guys helped each other to get through preseason and the beginning of school?
ASW: As freshmen, the first time we actually met all together was getting our physical and our concussion tests. From the very beginning, we all got along very well. We’d go to practice together, we’d eat together.
Do you feel like you’ve still been able to connect with other kids at Macalester?
ASW: Yeah, definitely. I know everybody on my floor, and the hall meetings help. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people just hanging out, and going to class and stuff like that.
What do you see as Macalester’s chances at the MIAC championships?
ASW: I haven’t seen too many MIAC teams play, but obviously St. Thomas was supposed to be one of the best teams, and I thought we played them really well. Just based on the mentality of our team this year, I think we’ll do well.
Could you elaborate on that mentality and how that’s emerged?
ASW: Even in practice, everybody wants to win. Whether it’s just keeping possession or trying to score goals, everybody’s just trying to be the best they can be. And everybody trying to be [his] best is improving every player on the team.
Anything else you want add about soccer or Mac?
ASW: I love it, to be quite honest. That’s the only other thing I have.