Athlete of the Week: Sava Pantic finds place on and off the field
After a year here at Biola University, sophomore Sava Pantic has found where he needs to be both on and off the soccer field.
Pantic tied a 43-year-old school record by scoring six goals against Pacific Union College on Sept. 11 in part of a 15-0 shutout putting an exclamation point on the still young season.
“It was [a] funny game. That team wasn’t that good,” Pantic said. “We knew that [it] was going to be [a] good game for us and we tried to [break] our record and we made it.”
The now 26-year-old athlete has the most experience on the team. At the age of 19, Pantic played on Serbia’s national team in the Euro Cup. His coaches here had high expectations of him when he came to Biola to play soccer. At first, according to Pantic, he was lost, but he improved and proved himself on the field.
A communications major with an interpersonal emphasis, he is juggling 17 units, soccer and trying to find a job, but Pantic has found his identity here.
“I found my purpose and everything, why I’m here,” he said. “I’m not doing just whatever. I think this is a special school, and special soccer team, special community for us. I’m enjoying here and I appreciate everything.”
Leaving big family in Serbia has been emotional time
Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, Pantic grew up in a family of six — consisting of his father, stepmother, two brothers of the ages 19 and two, and an 18-year-old sister. When it came time to come to the States it was hard for his family to see their eldest go across the globe.
Pantic described leaving home as an emotional time for him and his family, but they were supportive because they knew it was a step forward in his life.
Despite being far away from home, he does stay in contact with his family every week. Pantic gives credit to fellow teammates Carlos Ballesteros and international player Joao Toscan in helping him figure out everything at Biola.
He knew no English before starting his first year, and during the first couple of weeks it was hard for him to adapt to American culture. Everything was different — from food to the electrical outlets in the wall. However, fast food in America is one of the good things Pantic has experienced like Mexican food and his favorite restaurant, In-N-Out Burger.
Moving to America brings many culture differences
Not only was there a shock in culture, but also in soccer. Pantic describes American soccer as more physical and about fitness. American soccer focuses on who can run faster and who can run longer, whereas in Europe “it’s kind of lazy soccer,” he said.
Pantic chose to play at Biola because he was looking for an international experience. According to him, what Europe does not have is the opportunity to study and play sports at the same time.
“This school year I am looking forward to [passing] my classes, first, and I’m looking forward to do well in soccer as a team and being a good athlete,” Pantic said.