His story wasn’t one that you heard every day. It was one filled with a complex cast of characters, a chronic change of settings and a passion for kicking the crap out of a ball.
By Keane Carlin, Sports Editor
It was his turn to tell his upper division communication class about his life story. As he told of his humble beginnings to the entire class, one could only notice how captivated his fellow peers were. Yonha Adrabi was born in Los Angeles, CA. His family, who were from Israel, abruptly uprooted themselves from California to move back to Israel when Adrabi was five years old. After some unfortunate events, Adrabi and his family moved back to Los Angeles just in time for him to start the fourth grade.
“I missed all of the basics; the alphabet and vowels and everything,” said Adrabi. “I had to get tutors for most of my classes,” he added. Adrabi received the empathy of one of his teachers, a teacher whom he will never forget. The teacher spent long hours after school helping to tutor the young Adrabi at no cost. This taught Adrabi to respect and care for others who weren’t exactly yet living the American Dream.
Adrabi recalled his family’s first home in California as being run down and with a car-sized hole in the living room. Adrabi reminisced on those early memories with pride, not embarassment. Those experiences were trials that shaped the person he is today. During that time his family was his teammates, which correlated with his family’s love: soccer.
“I come from a sports-family background,” said Adrabi over the phone on a recent road trip. “My mom’s family played professionally, I had uncles who played on the Israeli national team (and) my oldest brother got a soccer scholarship and went to Bucknell University for four years.” Naturally, Adrabi loved soccer as well and started playing his current position–goalkeeper– when he was five years old in Israel. Besides for a brief stint of a couple years, Adrabi has been a goalkeeper through and through. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“As a goalie you are the last line of defense. You need to be composed and fully and tactfully in the game,” Adrabi said. “If a field player messes up, he has teammates behind him that will back him up. Obviously if a goalie messes up, it usually results in a goal,” he concluded. The goalkeeper must also be one of the leaders of the team. This is one of the reasons Adrabi loves being a goalie and to be a good leader, one must inspire a common vision in their team.
“Confidence is key because if you project confidence, your teammates in front of you will have confidence in themselves and in you,” said Adrabi. “I want my back line (defensive players) to know that they don’t have to worry about how I am going to do,” he remarked. “Once I step on the field it’s like a complete change of attitude,” said Adrabi. “You’ll hear me screaming and yelling during games or practices, but once I leave the field I’m laid back, relaxed and down to earth.”
On a whim, to Hilo, HI
Adrabi played soccer all four years in high school, but he would be the first to admit that soccer and friendships were of more importance than school grades. With that, Adrabi was forced to prove himself at Santa Barbara City College, a junior college, for two years. After some indecision, Adrabi decided to go to Cal State Monterey Bay for school. Adrabi had moved most of his things and was mere days away from his first day of school when he got a call from Ziggy Korytoski (now former), head coach of the UH Hilo soccer team
“He called me and told me he finally got me accepted into school and basically to get on the next plane to Hawaii,” said Adrabi. Adrabi ended up being the only recruit signed that year by Korytoski. “At that time, both of my parents were out of the country, so it was kind of an on-the-spot decision I had to make. I ended up driving back to LA and going to the airport to come to Hilo. I remember getting off the airplane standing outside of the Hilo airport just not knowing what I was going to do, where i was going to live; I had nothing planned out.” Luckily Adrabi made friends quickly and established himself as a leader and the starting goalkeeper.
On his collegiate career:
“It’s definitely bittersweet. The whole college experience is once in a lifetime. I try to live it to the fullest. Playing-wise, it’s going to suck leaving because of all of the friends I’ve made on the team. It’s going to be something I miss. The road trips that we go on… once I graduate I’ll look back on those times and think about all the fun we had; the games we’ve won, the games we’ve lost, just the whole general experience. Then again, it’s time to get out of college and move forward with my life. Over here (Hawaii) isn’t anything like California, it’s a lot more low-key, less crowded and people are a lot more polite.”
On Ziggy not coming back:
“I was definitely not a happy camper. Just for the fact, the conversations I had with him on the phone, even before I came here, about his five-year plan for the program and about where he wanted to take it. That was the reason I came here. Once he announced to the team that he wasn’t coming back, I definitely had a disappointed look on my face and I was kind of pissed. At the end of the day, he did it for family reasons; he got a professional contract with a team in Guatemala. I can’t argue with that. I still keep in touch with him, we still chit-chat and I’m actually planning on going down to Guatemala to train with his team over the summer.
“It’s kind of like a professional trial and hopefully I get picked up. I’m confident that I can compete at that stage. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to require a lot of work and dedication, but soccer has always been my passion. Even if I don’t make it professionally, I feel like I’m still going to be involved in soccer, I might get into coaching. I just feel like I could never leave the game. I was actually looking into getting my coaching license and going into that.”
On his strategy for penalty kicks and shootouts:
“I try to read the player and his body language. It’s a split second decision. When I read the player, it’s that moment right before he strikes the ball. There are body cues I look for. If the player is a right-footed kicker, he runs up to the ball and at the last second if he opens up his hips, I know that he is going to his right side or my left.
“It’s also kind of a mind game. I try to intimidate the players. I try to make myself as big as possible on the goal line. I move a lot, I move my hands a lot and it might look stupid, but every distraction can help. I learned the body cues from Ian Foyer, who was my goalkeeping coach and who had played professionally in the MLS and he also played professionally in England. My ratio is more saves then goals on PK’s (penalty kicks).”