Athlete of the Week: Sava Pantic has Euro Cup experience
Athlete of the week: Freshman Midfielder, Sava Pantic. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES
When summer’s curtain closes the great majority of Biola’s scholars make the typical trek from neighboring regions and states to arrive in La Mirada before classes begin. But for freshman Sava Pantic, his journey to Biola is far from typical.
Euro Cup experience adds to Pantic's game
Pantic, a midfielder for the soccer team, flew 6,400 miles from Belgrade, Serbia and landed in Los Angeles just a few days before Biola began its fall semester. With this being his first time in America, life became understandably hectic.
“My plan is to survive the first semester, and if I survive I think I will be good here,” Pantic said.
Pantic is not your average freshman recruit. He is 25 years old and has Euro Cup experience, playing for the 2004 Under-19 Serbian National team. This experience leads to high expectations from his coaches.
Adjusting to the level of competition
After logging 33 minutes in his debut, he played 63 and 59 minutes in his next two matches. His first start came in a 3-1 victory over Westminster College and he played 77 minutes. Pantic has placed two of his four shots on goal, but has yet to record a point in four games with the Eagles.
“I think coach likes my game,” Pantic said. “I’m not fit for this level of competition but after 10 or 15 days I think I can play 90 minutes.”
The plan is to gradually prepare him to play the full 90 minutes, and the reason for the baby steps, Pantic says, stems from a distinct difference between American and European soccer.
“I need time here for everything to adapt my body to American soccer,” he explained, “It’s not like Europe.”
He describes European soccer as more laid back than the American style, and the fast-paced American game is something he’s not used to. Nor is he used to everything else in America he’s experiencing for the first time, such as being separated from his family or understanding English in textbooks.
Finding support from family and new friends
While life in America has been a challenge, helpful technology and supportive new friends have strengthened his new beginning.
“I have a big family; two brothers, one sister, a father and mother and it’s not so easy for a parent to leave their kid in the world, especially America,” he said. “I was a little scared but now it’s okay because we have Skype.”
Skype, among other things, has been a blessing for Pantic. His teachers have been understanding, helping him through tough assignments while he adjusts to the English language.
“There’s people from all over the world here and they are all so friendly and want to help me,” he said.
Biola is huge step for Pantic, but a step he’s willing to conquer it for the sake of opportunity.
“I think this is the greatest opportunity for me to come to California,” Pantic said. “This is a dream country.”