Brazilian swagger on the pitch

Leo KowalskiMoving from Division I to Division III is the best decision sophomore Leo Kowalski has ever made. He transferred to Hampden- Sydney from Virginia Commonwealth University to play soccer, get a good education, and tap into the alumni network. He put aside his youthful ambition to play soccer professionally when he realized that the competition is incredibly stiff and that going to the right college could prepare him for life.

“I wasn’t enjoying myself at VCU,” says Leo, who was a red-shirt freshman there before transferring last fall. “At Hampden- Sydney, there is a great balance between academics, athletics, and social life.”

Leo moved to the Richmond area from Brazil when he was 12 years old and speaks Portugese, Spanish, and English. He still has many family members in South America and his family returns periodically for a heavy dose of familial and cultural immersion.

He is proud of the education he is getting at H-SC and excited to major in Government and Foreign Affairs. On the field, Leo is eager to help the soccer team bring home a conference championship.

“We are focused on an ODAC championship, which would be a first for the Hampden-Sydney soccer team. Of course, first we have to make it to the tournament.”

Because Leo is from Brazil, home to some of the greatest soccer players in the world, he says some people in the United States have certain expectations of him. He doesn’t really mind, though. “I enjoy getting the ball and I want to be a leader on the team. For Brazilians, soccer is in your blood. We are known for our footwork, and I love to dribble the ball. We are also known for smiling a lot while we play. We have a good time.”

Leo is definitely having a good time at Hampden-Sydney, which he says is much more relaxing than going to school in downtown Richmond. “The schoolwork is hard, that’s for sure, but the atmosphere here is very relaxed and the campus is beautiful. That’s a great combination.”