As the younger brother of a former UTM athlete of the year, there was no doubt that Salem Aboghodieh would participate in some form of athletics at UTM. A former ball hockey player and a casual basketball player, Aboghodieh is a star player on the UTM soccer team, the VP finance of UTMAC, and a director of UTMSU.
On the field, Aboghodieh is a starting striker for the UTM Division 1 soccer team. A creative false nine with three years of playing experience here at UTM, he was the top scorer in Division 1 men’s soccer with six goals and five assists in eight appearances during the 2014/15 season. A very versatile talent, the fourth-year management specialist can score goals, provide critical assists, and backtrack to help his team on defence. He is a critical player on the team—it was his goal and assist in the Division 1 finals that won UTM the title this year for the first time in seven years.
UTM’s soccer team will take the field for the first time next season at the varsity level, and Aboghodieh will be hoping to return to his position up top. Aboghodieh believes that the team is more than ready to make the step up. “UTM soccer has a strong foundation of talent as well as a solid coaching and there’s no reason why UTM cannot put up a strong fight in the OCAA against established competition under the guidance of varsity coach Rob Brown,” Aboghodieh assured The Medium in an interview.
As a huge fan of Wayne Rooney, Aboghodieh appreciates the English forward’s work ethic and drive to succeed. A hard worker himself, he believes that sporting success comes from sticking to a solid workout routine and a healthy nutrition plan.
Aboghodieh is very honest about his progression and improvement as an athlete. He encourages students to try new things and keep good company. “It was a long process, especially since I was chubby, out of shape, and stuck in my comfort zone,” he says. “I really wanted to accomplish my goals, on and off the field. I realized that the only way was to change myself from within, to form better habits while I am young and my personality is still malleable.”
Aboghodieh credits his development in soccer to his time spent at former semipro team, Milltown FC. A few years ago, after being scouted by the head coach and undergoing a two-month training camp, Aboghodieh signed with Milltown FC to play in the Peel Halton Soccer League. “The high level of play and training expected by the coaching staff helped me immediately,” he says. The year after that, he continued playing for Milltown FC’s U21 team in the Ontario Soccer League after declining an offer from Erin Mills Soccer Club to play for their U21 OSL team.
Off the pitch, Aboghodieh participates in a wide variety of campus events and student organizations. At the UTM Athletic Council, he oversees the use of the council’s funds and organizes events such as the yearly athletic banquet. He is also a member of the Quality of Services to Students Committee, where he votes on tuition and student service fees.
Aboghodieh also serves on the board of UTMSU, trying to represent students’ interests. “I take my responsibility as a student leader and representative very seriously,” he says. “Sometimes that includes asking the difficult questions and taking a little heat from the university administration, but it’s all part of representing students in a fair and transparent way.”
Aboghodieh also represents UTM at various business case competitions across Ontario. This past November, Aboghodieh ranked first place in the Human Resource Management category at DECA U’s Inter-U of T, a business case competition between all three campuses. For the past two years, Aboghodieh has also represented UTM at the provincial level at Canada’s largest business conference for undergraduates, DECA U’s provincials.
He also takes time to speak at high schools and mentor first-years as well as prospective high school students looking to enter the management program at UTM. “Students entering university are unaware of just how university expectations are different from high school expectations,” he says. So far, the feedback has been very positive.
At the end of the day, Aboghodieh lives by an Albert Einstein quote: “Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value.” He believes that anyone can affect their community in a positive way. University is a unique experience, and to this athlete, it’s not enough to spectate.
Update: Aboghodieh has clarified that whether this is his farewell season, or only a winning season after which he will return to play soccer at UTM, is yet to be seen.