Zack Masciopinto is a soccer player for the Carnegie Mellon Men’s Soccer team and a mechanical engineering major. Growing up in Chicago, Zack played club soccer as a child, continued the sport for all four years of high school and is now playing his fourth consecutive season as a senior at CMU.
His schedule is demanding, but Zack says he’s grateful for the experiences granted to him as a student athlete.
What does the life of a CMU soccer player look like? Let’s ask Zack!
Athletics & School
Playing a sport necessitates missing a few classes; it’s inevitable that some away games require more extensive travel. Games are on the weekends, and away games usually require bus trips, but maybe two or three games in the season require plane trips. The team might leave, for instance, on a Thursday morning and then return for Monday classes.
Zack says that the most important thing is communicating with professors – letting them know on the first day of classes that you’re an athlete. Generally, Zack reminds a professor he’ll be away a few weeks ahead of time, and then, sends another follow-up reminder the week of.
He hasn’t had any problems with his professors because of his athletic commitments – but, if you have a problem, Zack says your coaches, or the athletic director, can intervene and assist you with these difficult conversations.
Zack says he’s had extensions (at times) to complete things, and that in some cases, coaches can even proctor tests for you while you’re on the road. He says that some of the most committed, studious people he knows are the other players on his team.
“A lot of people have this idea of the dumb jock, but some of the smartest and highest achieving students I know are athletes.”
Outside of Soccer
Carnegie Mellon Solar Racing (CMSR) which involves his engineering degree; they build racing boats from scratch to implement research, sustainability, and design skills. He’s currently serving as the Vice President of Member Development and works on recruiting new members.
His soccer team also volunteers with Arsenal Middle School. They play soccer games with the students and talk to them about what to expect if they continue playing sports in high school or college.
The Benefits of a Team
Zack says there are countless benefits to being a student athlete. “Right from the start, I made so many friends from being on a team.”
He says he still keeps in touch with recent graduates, and he’s confident he’s made many life-long connections.
Teammates have also helped him with his school experiences — when he was younger, older team members with the same major guided him and gave him academic advice. Being on the soccer team has provided unique bonding opportunities, like last spring when the team traveled to Italy. They spent time playing soccer, doing team-building activities, and sight-seeing together.
Plans Going Forward
Zack plans to finish up his senior year and go straight into a one-year, integrated masters program at CMU. He’s worked already as an intern for Lockheed Martin, and he hopes to continue working with them in the future as a part of their space program.
Athletes & Non-Athletes
Zack admits, “CMU might not be a ‘sports school,’ in terms of massive attendance at games, but I feel respected here.”
He says athletes do feel recognized; people admire that he and his fellow athletes balance so much. He says that within the sports community, many teams try to go to each other’s games.
Support systems between different majors and organizations is something he hopes can grow at CMU. For example, he’s looking for opportunities for athletes and non-athletes to feel more integrated or engaged with one another. One activity that’s already in place is Tartan Night at the Theater, where the Athletic Department covers the cost of student athlete tickets for certain School of Drama performances. Zack says lots of athletes go to the shows, enjoy the shows, and show their support for the actors. As a campus community, he thinks it’s important we support each other in our separate endeavors.
How do you support your fellow students? Let us know in the comments!
Zack’s Daily Schedule
Mondays and Wednesdays
9:30 a.m. Wakes up. Zack lives off campus, so he usually has a light breakfast at home, like a granola bar, or a banana and some water.
10:00 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. Classes and working on homework or studying. Some of the classes Zack’s taking this semester include Mechanical Systems Experimentation (Mech E lab class), Design 2 (Mech E capstone) and Feedback Control Systems (Mech E technical elective).
4:45–6:45 p.m. Soccer practice. Once a week there’s also weight lifting sessions.
7:30 p.m. Classes again.
Tuesdays and Thursdays
10:30 a.m. Wakes up and eats breakfast.
12:00–5:30 p.m. Classes and working on homework or studying. Sometimes homework is problem sets, other times he works on readings, lab reports, or semester-long projects. He eats lunch on campus at iNoodle, The Exchange or El Gallo de Oro. For dinner, he usually eats off-campus or cooks at home.
5:45–6:45 p.m. Weekly team review of film footage. They watch footage of the previous game they played or footage of the team they’ll play next.
6:45–8:45 p.m. Main practice.
9:00 p.m. More schoolwork.