He's got soccer in his blood

q@a nick halkias, poly

October 02, 2008|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

Poly sweeper Nick Halkias said his love for soccer emerges from his Greek heritage, something he is as proud of as his success on the field. Halkias, 17, helped the Engineers win the Baltimore city championship last season and has played a major role in their 4-2 start this fall. The senior also wrestles for Poly and plays basketball for the Greek Orthodox Youth Association team at his church, St. Nicholas. He hopes to play soccer in college, where the B-average student plans to major in kinesiology. He is fluent in Greek and enjoys charitable work and Greek dancing.

How did you get started playing soccer?

Greeks grow up playing soccer. As soon as I started walking, my father had a ball at my feet. I started playing clinic when I was around 4. After 4 years old, I started getting competitive and I just grew into it.

Did your dad play soccer?

Yes. My parents were born in Greece. They've been here for almost 30 years. My father played professionally in Greece. He was a goalkeeper.

What's your earliest sports memory?

My very first goal in Rosedale soccer. ... Consistently after that, I was on the all-star team. I scored one goal that season, then I've got to step it up a little. I started getting the mentality of improving already at such a young age. I was 8 years old when I scored my first goal, so then I just kept improving.

So, you haven't always been a defender?

No, I was a striker when I was younger ... but I'm just as happy playing sweeper because sweeper is a very important position. I'm actually flattered to play sweeper because that signifies that there's a sense of leadership and like a nonstop attitude.

You're the sweeper and your twin brother, George, is the stopper. What's the connection between the two of you on the field?

Seeing that it's my brother, twins, people think we think the same thoughts [laughs]. Playing with George, we've been on the team throughout Rosedale and all the other teams, so I know George's tendencies and he knows mine. But we never second-guess each other. I trust him and he trusts me, as we do with all the other teammates. Defense is extremely important, and having my brother there is extremely comfortable.

How did the Poly team celebrate winning the city championship last fall?

We just kept talking about it and talking about it. Then we just got ready for states. It boosted our confidence a little and helped us get past the first round of regionals. Then we played a huge contender in [eventual state Class 2A runner-up] Loch Raven. Despite losing, I had fun in that game. It was a high-paced game with a lot of physical-nature players in Loch Raven, and last year our team was extremely physical.

Do you have family in Greece?

All my family is there. We're the first generation born here.

Do you go to Greece often?

We try to go back on a regular basis, but it's been difficult these last few years. Last time I've been was 2005, but I'll never forget that I went in 2004 to see the Olympics.

Did you see some soccer there?

No. We tried, but it was all sold out.

What did you see?

We saw USA basketball. It was the USA-Angola. We saw track and field, which was amazing, witnessing the fastest man on Earth. We also saw pingpong [laughs].

What activities are you involved in at your church?

GOYA. It's not only basketball. It's a lot of charity events, Greek dance groups. The St. Nicholas Greek Festival, we set that up every year. I'm involved in Vacation Bible School, helping out with the little kids, which is one of the best experiences I've had over the summer. My godmother's the secretary of the church, so I help her a lot. During GOYA, we go to soup kitchens, the Salvation Army, dropping off clothes, and we clean up Greektown.

To read more of the Q&A with Halkias, go to

baltimoresun.com/varsityletters.

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