The Eastern men’s soccer team has multiple players with leadership ability, competitive fire and the willingness to work hard in every aspect of life whether on or off the field.
Junior Shady Omar exemplifies this and his road like every college athlete has a different story.
Omar is from East Lansing, Mich.igan and played his high school soccer at Haslett. In high school he scored 80 goals earning all-state team honors in three of his four years.
Omar also played for the Michigan Wolverines club team in his high school career. In his home state, Michigan State and other programs recruited him, but he chose a completely different route.
Omar moved overseas to play for a second division academy team and received an offer from a professional third division team, but moved instead to Egypt.
Omar was on a family visit in Egypt when he was asked to train with a couple teams. With the help of his family’s advice and the interest from the coaches, Omar began his two-year professional career in Egypt.
“While playing there I learned a lot from the coaches and the professional environment around me, it was a big change from playing American soccer to going overseas and playing there since they have a completely different playing style,” Omar said. “I learned the drive to be the best wherever I play and I developed in every part of my game.”
Omar then came to Eastern with the recruitment of head coach Kiki Lara. Omar credited Lara for constantly keeping in touch with him and his dad as a way to let Omar know if he came back to the states there was an opportunity for him.
“When I returned to the U.S. I visited EIU and saw what the program was all about and how dedicated the staff was to ensure that their players have a good surrounding environment around them to improve to the best of their capabilities,” Omar said. “I also saw the camaraderie within the squad itself and how close everyone is.”
Omar’s Panther career has seen growth in every year he has been here.
His freshman year he logged 618 minutes, started in three games and had one assist. His sophomore year he started in 12 of his 17 matches played and was tied for the second-leading goal-scorer with two goals.
This year he scored a team-high three goals, played in 14 matches and tallied one assist.
“I have seen a lot of improvements in myself as a player and that is primarily from my drive to be the best possible version of myself,” he said. “I have my goals set high so I have to work really hard to achieve those goals, my mind is all about soccer and I am always thinking of new ways I can improve and get better. The people in my life around me and very supportive of me and my goals and that gives me even more motivation and belief. “
Omar’s competitive fire, grit and willingness to put in max effort is evident in every game. Omar is proud to say he has always had those qualities in his playing style.
“I think that being gritty and always wanting more is key to being a successful athlete and that has always been a motto for me: To do everything on the field to the best of any capabilities no matter the circumstance,” Omar said. “Coach (Lara) always talks about having grit and that boosts my mentality even more. I am very competitive so I do get a little hot headed on the field sometimes but that is apart.”
Omar has already declared his goals for his senior season. His team’s goal is to make the NCAA tournament. His individual goal is to continue to improve his game, particularly with scoring goals.
“It is something every college athlete strives to do and I think it is completely possible and the team will work to the best of their abilities to get there,” Omar said. “From an individual standpoint I want to improve on all of my abilities as a striker so I can help the team as much as possible by being a threat and scoring a lot of goals.”
Omar is a marketing major here at Eastern . Like all athletes Omar wants to play in the next level of his sport, but has a backup plan with his major just in case. Omar has already begun working with his backup plan with and influence from his family.
“From the business side I want to work with medicine and I have already started working on my business, which will be importing medical supplies to the Middle East,” Omar said. “Having a family that is Egyptian as well as my dad being a doctor I have all the resources around me to have a successful business.”
Omar continued: “I want to play professionally after college and I think with my drive and determination and the help of my coaches I will get there. It has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember to play soccer professionally so it would be an amazing feeling to do so.”
Omar still has memories to come in a Panther uniform. Prior to his senior year his favorite memory individually is his goal against Oral Roberts in 2018. His favorite team moment was making the Summit League tournament his freshman year.
“We were down 1-0 and I scored a late header that sealed our birth into the conference tournament so it was an amazing feeling scoring that goal and a big confidence booster,” he said. “My favorite team moment was making it to the conference tournament my first year here because it was a crazy ending to the game we had an overtime two late goals that sealed it for us so it was a great team moment.”
Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]