By Joseph Russell Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 12:00 am
With just one semester remaining before the end of his college career, Kentucky Wesleyan College soccer player Christakis Agisilaou already has plans set in motion for the future.
The Owensboro High School product, set to graduate in December, will close out his Panthers career with a specific goal in mind — to make it as a professional soccer player.
"I have a couple of agents looking to sign me as soon as my collegiate career is over," Agisilaou said. "I'm going to try to do what I can to sign a contract for me and my family and make them proud. It's a lot of work to do, but I know I'll make it there. I know I'm close, so I can't stop now — I've got to finish strong."
According to Agisilaou, the opportunity to pursue a professional career arose when he and his brother Nikos, a sophomore on KWC's soccer squad, traveled to Cyprus last summer to visit family. Their father, Harris — who played on KWC's first soccer team in 1979 and later coached the team in the late 1990s —- is from the Mediterranean island and still maintains contacts with professional scouts and teams in his home country.
During his time there, Agisilaou trained with some of the local professionals and caught the attention of a few scouts with his speed and overall field awareness.
"When we were training, they knew I'd be finished with school soon," he said. "They were talking to me and asked me to stay and play with them. That was a big decision for me, but my mom really wanted me to come back and finish school. I worked my butt off to graduate earlier and get over there earlier."
A few of the teams looking at him, Agisilaou said, included ASIL football club in Lysi and Alki football club in Larnaca, both of which are members of the Cypriot Second Division league.
Agisilaou currently suits up at striker for the Panthers and led KWC in goals (12) and assists (7) last season, earning first team All-Great Midwest Athletic Conference honors.
Over the summer, the 6-foot, 174-pounder traveled to Joplin, Missouri, to play for the Joplin Demize in the National Premiere Soccer League, which is considered a fourth-tier professional league in the United States. Though several of the players in the league are paid, NCAA players are allowed to compete without taking salary.
According to Agisilaou, he arrived in Missouri on a Monday afternoon, and he played his first game later that evening with the Demize reserves. After scoring a goal in the team's 2-1 victory, he earned a quick call-up, starting at right winger for the first team just five days later. From then on, he had a permanent spot in the Demize lineup.
"I had a lot of fun," he said. "We got to play the Houston Dynamo (MLS) reserve team, and we lost 1-0 to them, which was really good for us. I started and played the majority of that game, and I was subbed out late. Overall, it was a great experience for me this summer."
Agisilaou said he'll use the experience to improve on his play this season at KWC before moving to Europe in search of a professional career. Despite the odds, he feels ready.
"I definitely feel confident in my ability," he said. "I've always been the underdog in my life, I've always had to work hard to make it. That's helped me in the long run."
In addition to simply gaining experience by playing, Agisilaou and his brother do ladder drills each day for improved agility and lift weights for upper body and core strength. He has also been watching his diet and eating healthier.
"That helps you on the field and maybe go that extra 10 minutes in the ballgame that the coach needs from you," Agisilaou said. "What you put in your body is what you'll get out."
All of that effort, he hopes, will result in the chance to eventually play in the top leagues in Greece or England.
Agisilaou pointed to his "lifelong motto" as a point for his own inspiration, noting that one day he hopes he can serve as a role model for the younger kids in Owensboro to follow their dreams, no matter how far they have to go to achieve them.
"When you feel like quitting," he said, "Think about why you started."