It is not easy being a full-time student and a varsity athlete, but for centre-back Andre Pinto, his love of the game, and support from his teammates make it all worthwhile.

A second-year student in the communication, culture, information, and technology program, Pinto says his key to success in academics is to approach it the same way he does soccer. “We train a lot [for soccer] so we should do the same thing with studying,” he says.

His teammates make it easier as well. The academics are “more like a team effort,” where players in the same program help each other out with studying and prepping for class. Since they train so often, he must be disciplined with his time and it helps to have the support from his fellow players.

Pinto is an experienced competitive athlete, having begun his career at three years old when his parents put him in soccer. He fell in love with the game and went on to play as the captain of the Mississauga Croatia team, and later for clubs Toronto Lynx and Oakville Blue Devils. He also won the most valuable player and sportsman of the year award playing for his high school soccer team at Holy Trinity in Oakville.

Holding the centre-back position over his entire soccer career, Andre brings toughness and confidence to the field, promoting communication between his teammates. He tells everyone to keep talking on the field.

He believes the key to success is confidence and to “stick in.” His club coaches first told him that—he says it means that no matter what you do, be it going in for a tackle or studying for a test, “you have to go hard.”

Pinto prepares for matches by listening to hip-hop music, zoning out from the real world, and visualizing what he wants to do on the field. He says his motivation are his teammates. “Our team is a family and that is what motivates me to keep playing, to play for the guys around me.”

Pinto says the UTM team is improving since last year, having made playoffs this year. However,  they are still looking to promote that “winning mentality” and culture—something the new coaches strongly uphold. Pinto says the team must have the mentality that they are going to win every game in order to make it happen. It’s more of a mental obstacle than anything else.

He hopes to get as far as possible in the playoffs next season.

Pinto says joining the men’s varsity team at UTM helped him meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends he otherwise would not have. He encourages anyone interested in playing soccer to show up to tryouts and show the coaches you have a great work ethic.