Senior forward Sotiri Athanasopoulos has proven to be a valuable asset to the Geneseo Ice Knights. Being a team captain this year has provided Athanasopoulos with the opportunity to take his leadership skills to the next level, as he proves himself to be a dependable teammate.
While a majority of hockey players begin their careers at a very young age, Athanasopoulos is an exception. He picked up the sport later than most, at nine years old, after playing street hockey with friends in his neighborhood.
His family was unfamiliar with hockey, but after Athanasopoulos told his parents that he wanted to play, they immediately fell in love with the game and gave him all the support he needed.
“My dad pushed me, but it was never to the point where he forced me to play—I always wanted it more than he did, I owe a lot to him for that,” Athanasopoulos said. “He really gave me so many good opportunities.”
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Athanasopoulos is an international student at Geneseo, although he considers the United States to be a second home. Prior to becoming an Ice Knight, Athanasopoulos attended South Kent School—an all-boys preparatory high school located in Connecticut. Playing there gave Athanasopoulos the opportunity to adjust to the American education system and athletic programs; this education also taught him to be independent while living in the dorms.
“Coming here [to Geneseo], I didn’t need to worry about living away from home or living with roommates, I knew all of that would be fun,” Athanasopoulos said. “It prepared me in that sense because I didn’t always have people looking after me.”
After playing hockey for two years while attending South Kent, Athanasopoulos continued his career in the United States Premier Hockey League, where he played for the Bay State Breakers in the South Shore of Boston, Massachusetts. with current teammate and co-captain senior defender Pat Condon.
“It was really cool to have a friend coming here,” Athanasopoulos said.
Athanasopoulos is very proud of this year’s team, and said that him and Condon “could not have asked for anything more” of their fellow teammates.
“Even on the team we played for in juniors, we were leaders there too,” Athanasopoulos said. “We try to work hard and lead by example.”
Although he spoke to a few other colleges about their hockey programs, Athanasopoulos immediately knew that he wanted to come to Geneseo upon his first time seeing the campus.
“Once I came to Geneseo and I had my visit [with the team], I just knew that I would fit in here after [seeing] how good everyone was at hockey and how humble everyone was,” Athanasopoulos said.
While hockey may be a very time-consuming aspect of Athanasopoulos’s life, he still prioritizes his time to hang out with his friends and teammates.
“I always like socializing with my roommates, whether it’s playing video games or going to the movies together,” Athanasopoulos said.
As a communication major and French minor, Athanasopoulos has a wide range of opportunities that he can take advantage of after he graduates. For now, he is not exactly sure where life will take him. Athanasopoulos said he will be happy living in Canada or the U.S., as they both have become homes to him.
Being that he is trilingual in Greek, French and English, Athanasopoulos can take his career in more directions than the average person, as he would be a valuable commodity to any employer.
After completing his career as an Ice Knight, Athanasopoulos does not plan to continue playing hockey. He recognizes that it is time for his playing days to come to an end. He still plans on staying involved with the sport, however, whether it’s coaching a team or mentoring young players.
The life lessons that Athanasopoulos has learned throughout his hockey career—and especially his time as an Ice Knight—will certainly be put to good use throughout his future endeavors.