Three countries, one game for Menniti

Maria Baldwin, Feature Writer

When you speak five languages, and move to three countries in two years, you learn to adapt quickly to the culture that surrounds you.

Marcus Menniti, a freshman on the Eastern men’s soccer team, attributes his adaptation skills to being open to being a part of new cultures and traditions.

Menniti said that even though the rules of soccer are the same in every country, the way the game is played has varied in the different countries that he has lived in.

“I’ve played in three different countries, and all three are totally different games of soccer,” Menniti said. “Here in the United States, it is all about athleticism, and more of the physical aspect of the game. In Italy, it is all about the tactical aspect.”

Menniti elaborated that a tactical game focuses more on playing in your place, and how to play there, and in the physical part of the game you focus more on the strength of your players, and you see a lot more running.

Despite moving from Italy, to Sweden, and then finding himself in Charleston, Ill., Menniti still plays with the same passion and grit that was bestowed on him at a young age.

“I come from a county where you decide to play soccer, you just play,” Menniti said. “In Italy, soccer is everything, and it is part of the culture. My strengths are in my passion for playing. I bring the grit, and the speed, and the tactical and defensive parts of the game.”

The passion and excitement for success that Menniti brings to practice does not go unnoticed by his teammates, especially junior goalkeeper Mike Novotny.

“The thing I like about him is that he will never back out of a tackle,” Novotny said. “When he goes into a tackle, you best believe he will be coming out with the ball nine times out of ten.”

Menniti has played 1,045 minutes so far this season for Eastern, and just recently scored his first career goal against Western Illinois last week.

“For me, the most important thing was that we won, and I’m happy for my goal,” Menniti said. “When I started running, that was the moment that I knew I was going to score, I just felt it. Before, I didn’t think so much, I just saw a big space and I knew I had an opportunity to score.”

While Menniti credits Eastern coach Kiki Lara as the reason he chose to come to Eastern against other Division-I programs, Lara credits Menniti with the consistency that he brings to the team.

“Marcus brings athleticism and strong mentality on and away from training,” Lara said. “He is very consistent every day at training and matches and approaches the game like a top footballer. He is very reliable on the field, and is performing consistently.”

Being able to help Novotny on defense, but also helping the team score is why Menniti is such a threat on the field.

“I am an attacker and can also play a defensive role,” Menniti said. “I can help the team in both situations.”

Outside of soccer, Menniti is adapting to life in the United States, and is enjoying the culture with his other Italian teammates.

“I have some teammates that are Italians, and that helps, we get together and cook pasta, but I had already gone through a move, having gone from Italy to Sweden, so I knew what I was going to go through,” Menniti said. “In the first month it was a bit hard, and the food was hard to get used to.”

Adapting to the culture means trying new things, and Menniti already knows what his favorite American foods are.

“My favorite American meal is pancakes for sure,” Menniti said. “The pancakes in Italy are thinner, not like the ones here.”

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 5812812 or [email protected]