Humans of Harker: Through the posts

Shomrik Mondal (12) commits himself to football and soccer

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Vishnu Kannan

“[Soccer has] given me an opportunity to mentor the younger kids. They’ll ask me a question about something that’s maybe not directly soccer-related: whether it be that they have school questions, or that they have [questions about] just life in general. It’s always fun, and it feels good. I’m an only child, and I’ve never had a little brother before, but they’re all little brothers to me, especially the sophomores,” Shomrik Mondal (12) said.

Music blasting from a stereo speaker set on the turf of Davis Field, Shomrik Mondal (12) places a brown Wilson football on a kicking tee set on the right hash marks of the 35-yard line. After taking three long paces back from the spot of the tee, he takes two short, calculated, and angled steps to his right, before pausing momentarily to visualize the 40-yard kick he is about to attempt. Taking another small step back with his left foot, Shomrik transfers his body weight forward and begins his kicking motion with three powerful strides. The spikes of his non-kicking leg’s cleat plant into the turf beside the ball, while his left foot swings smoothly back and then forward again as it connects with the football, sending it spiraling into the air. Satisfied after watching the ball sail through the center of the goal post, Shomrik moves the kicking tee to the left hash marks and repeats the process.

Having played soccer for ten years, Shomrik decided to join Harker’s football team as a kicker this year. He describes the process of switching his kicking techniques from those used in soccer to those used by football kickers as one that involved “breaking bad habits and re-learning” and summer kicking sessions on Davis Field. These very kicking sessions are what Shomrik enjoys most about being a kicker.

“I bring my speaker and I just kick for two hours or so. I just like being here on my own and kicking. It’s very peaceful. And then sometimes I start messing around,” Shomrik said, chuckling. “Pushing my range to something that I normally can’t hit. It’s just fun being outside, I love the weather. It’s always a good time.”

Shomrik believes that being mentally strong is just as important as being physically strong and fundamentally sound technique-wise as a kicker. “Composure and being able to let go of a bad repetition” are two qualities that Shomrik feels are essential in any successful kicker.

“If you miss a kick, you have to forget about it. You can’t let it linger in your head, [Your mentality has to be] onto the next one,” he said.

After a football season which culminated in Shomrik committing to be a kicker in college, he returned to the soccer team for his final high school soccer season. Shomrik met his closest friends through soccer, which he began in third grade, and Shomrik feels there’s nothing like being able to play a sport you love alongside your closest friends, saying the feeling has been “indescribable.”

Andrew Cheplansky (12), one of Shomrik’s soccer teammates and close friends since third grade, admires Shomrik not only as a supportive friend with a great sense of humor but also as a great teammate on the field.

“Even though he has been hindered by an ankle injury this year, he’s still with the team traveling with us. He’s still coming to practice, and he just does what the team needs him to,” Andrew said.

Asmit Kumar (12), a childhood friend of Shomrik’s, fondly remembers playing soccer and cricket with him in the backyard when the two were just four years old. Asmit notes that even at a young age, Shomrik was always enthusiastic and “always willing to try new things,” a trait that he believes was crucial in Shomrik’s decision to start playing football this year. Like Andrew, Asmit views Shomrik as a “team guy” on the soccer team.

“He’s always riling up the team. Everyone sees him as a leader. In the huddle, he’s always giving us a pep talk before the game, he’s making sure that everyone knows we’re a team, and he’s always motivating everyone to work harder and do better,” Asmit said.

Not only does Shomrik feel that he has made his best friends through soccer, he also appreciates that soccer has given him the opportunity to play the role of an older brother to his younger teammates on the team, something he has never experienced as an only child.

“[Soccer has] given me an opportunity to mentor the younger kids. They’ll ask me a question about something that’s maybe not directly soccer-related: whether it be that they have school questions, or that they have [questions about] just life in general. It’s always fun, and it feels good. I’m an only child, and I’ve never had a little brother before, but they’re all little brothers to me, especially the sophomores,” he said.

Shomrik’s dedication and perseverance are what have allowed him to be successful in sports for so many years, as illustrated by the motto he lives by: “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

He extends this mindset to the classroom as well, where he has found particular interest in classes such as AP Economics and Game Theory, both of which, in Shomrik’s mind, can easily be applied to the real world.

“AP Econ and Game Theory are more application based and you could see [what you learn in them] going on in the real world. You can see how [the concepts are] applied and apply it yourself, as opposed to just like learning math, which is just equations that you don’t see applied,” he said.

At the end of the day, Shomrik wants the Harker community to remember him as someone who knew how to balance fun and hard work.

“I’d like to be remembered not as the kid who’s in the back playing video games in class, but at the same time, not the kid who has his face stuck in a textbook 24/7,” Shomrik said.