ISC Alumni Page

The ISC Alumni Page profiles some of the amazing players and coaches that have represented the ISC over the past 20+ years, and hopefully by highlighting their experiences, it provides motivation and guidance to the current ISC players and families. We will be adding two new alumni profiles each month.

“Even after our time at the ISC was over, we remain tied to the club through great memories, lifelong friendships and a love of the game”.

Meet a few of the proud Alumni of the Iowa Soccer Club. Click on a picture below to read their stories.

Paris Martins

Paris Martins

Name: Paris Mukisa Martins

Age: 24

How many years did you play soccer at the ISC: 14 years

Current Profession: Fitness Professional

Who were your ISC club coaches: My head coach was always Jon Cook, he pretty much coached me my 14 years with the ISC. I played under a various coaches but Jon was always my head coach.

Who was your favorite ISC coach: Jon Cook

Which High School did you attend: Iowa City West High

What is your favorite memory while playing for the ISC: Playing for the ISC completely changed my life. I viewed soccer an entirely different way after joining the ISC. I became much, much more competitive, and completely fell in love with soccer. If I had to choose my favorite memory,  it’s definitely the time that Joel Baker bought me a soccer ball at one of our tournaments when I was 9, which he made clear I needed to pay him back for. Till this day, I still owe him that $20 dollars 🙂

Which Iowa youth team did you look forward to playing against the most and why: I absolutely loved playing against the Iowa City Alliance. A lot of my friends from high school played on that team, and it was nice to compete against them. They also brought out the best in me, and we won a majority of the time 🙂

What was your most embarrassing moment on the soccer field: This is a very hard question for me to answer, only because I feel like I was embarrassed all the time growing up. I was one goofy kid let me tell you, but to be honest, the most embarrassing moment I had on the soccer field has to be during the State Cup semi-final when I missed the 4th penalty kick to lose the game.

Who was your funniest teammate playing for the ISC: E.J Schroder, E.J Schroder, and again, E.J Schroder

Who was your smartest teammate playing for the ISC: Without a doubt, Nathan Schuchert.

Growing up who was your all-time favorite professional soccer player: Easiest question of all time: RONALDINHO.

Which College/University did you play for: Wartburg College (NCAA D3)

Did you play professional soccer? If so for which club and when: I have played at a very high semi-professional level. I played for the Springfield Synergy in 2015, Muskegon Risers in 2016/17, Milwaukee Torrent in 2018, and Chicago Mustangs, present.

What is your greatest soccer achievement: My greatest soccer achievement has to be when I scored the only goal in the State Cup final my Junior year of high school with Brad Stiles.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car: To be honest, I think about EVERYTHING. I’m someone that has one of those minds that never stops thinking. I talk to myself a lot. Like…… a lot, a lot. Especially when I’m in the car alone. But I do think about my clients, working out, and soccer the most.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from this questionnaire: I am a perfectionist. My nice way of saying I have slight OCD and need EVERYTHING to be clean. My car, room, etc. It must be spotlessly clean. If it isn’t clean I won’t even think twice about cleaning it. I will start cleaning it before I get a chance to think about cleaning it.

Which professional soccer/football club do you support: Real Madrid (I like Ronaldo more, but if you were to ask me whose better, Messi).

What inspires you: There are so many things that inspire me, like a ridiculous amount of things, so I will list 3. My mother, Janice Martins, inspires me the most. She is the women who adopted me at the age of 2 and has done absolutely everything for me. Never missed a game home or away, and supported me the ENTIRE way. She is my guardian angel. Number 2 are my coaches. I had the BEST coaches growing up, and all of them treated me so well, and pushed me to be a better player. Without them, my soccer career wouldn’t be what it is today and I can’t thank all of them enough for their support. Lastly, my 3 dogs that passed away. If you know me, you know about those 3 dogs. They were the most important things to me, and till this day, every time I step on the field, after the National Anthem, I look up to the sky and blow a kiss to all three of them.

What Is your advice for players currently playing for the ISC: Fall in love with the game, and DO NOT take anything for granted. Always work hard, especially on your weak foot. I can’t stress enough the importance of fitness and juggling. Don’t avoid fitness, and don’t avoid juggling. Be you. I think i tried too hard to be like others, it’s great to admire people, but look to be the best YOU. The best teams are the ones that communicate the most, get close with your teammates, I promise you most of them will end up being life-long friends. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to cry. 14 years with the Iowa Soccer Club was one bumpy road. And let me tell you, I cried a lot. Let your emotions show, they will make you a better player in the end. Don’t be afraid to get stuck in, run the extra mile, or cry in your mom’s arms. Just be you, and always have fun 🙂

 

Christen Karniski

Christen Karniski

Name: Christen Karniski Torres

Age: 34

Current profession: Acquisitions Editor for Rowman & Littlefield — I acquire sports books for the company.

How many years did you play soccer at the ISC: Around 6 years

Who were your main ISC club coaches: Jon Cook

Who was your favorite ISC coach: Same answer, Jon!

Which high school did you attend: West High

What is your favorite memory while playing for the ISC: Probably playing “the crying game” over and over until the whole team was exhausted. Really, there isn’t a favorite single moment, just the overall memory of all the friendships and the practices that were ultra-competitive but still a lot of fun at the same time.

Which Iowa youth team did you look forward to playing against the most and why: I can’t remember!

What was your most embarrassing moment on the soccer field: It was probably when I got my first (and only) red card at a tournament, when a girl on a breakaway swung her leg back and caught me running up behind her and fell. The ref actually apologized for having to give me the red card, and of course I went off the field in tears!

Who was your funniest teammate playing for the ISC: Candice Divoky-Salow

Who was your smartest teammate playing for the ISC: Natasha Karniski — not just saying it because she’s my twin!

Growing up who was your all-time favorite professional soccer player: Probably Joy Fawcett from the USWNT, though there was no women’s professional league for her to play in when I was growing up.

Which college/university did you play for: University of Illinois (NCAA D1)

Did you play professional soccer: If so for which club and when: Yes, for Danmarks IF in the Damallsvenskan, in Sweden (2007) and for Washington Freedom in the WUSA (2009).

What is your greatest soccer achievement: From a team perspective, making it to the Elite Eight my junior year in college. Personally, either being named an All-American my senior year or playing professionally.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from this questionnaire: I met my husband while playing soccer.

Which professional soccer/football club do you support: Arsenal FC and the Philadelphia Union (I live in the Philadelphia area now).

Are you still playing soccer – if yes, for which team: No, not for any competitive team, but I still play rec soccer almost every week.

What is your advice for players currently playing for the ISC: Work hard but have fun. When you really love the game, the most difficult practices are often the ones you enjoy the most.

Nicky Senn (Darling)

Nicky Senn (Darling)

Name: Nicky Senn (maiden name Darling)

Age: 34

Current Profession: Human Performance Lab Manager and Research Coordinator at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Basically I get to manage a lab where we do exercise testing and research with different patient populations (most recently, people with spinal cord injury, and cancer patients), and I help coordinate an exciting program called Exercise is Medicine Greenville®. I also have personal assistant duties to an Associate Professor in the school, Dr. Jennifer Trilk, who is an exercise physiologist and a rockstar in the field of lifestyle medicine. I love my job!

How many years did you play soccer at the ISC: 5 or 6 years I think

Who were your main ISC club coaches: Jon Cook

Who was your favorite ISC coach: Jon Cook

Which High School did you attend: West High

What is your favorite memory while playing for the ISC:  There are too many to remember! Some of my favorites are out of town tournaments and singing Gloria Estefan with Christen and Natasha Karniski to pump ourselves up for games…open gym nights with the coaches…and the many sayings of Jon Cook like “slicin and dicin”. I also look back and really appreciate the way Jon pushed us to be our best and demanded more out of us that we believed we could give. He didn’t let us get away with going through the motions. The expectation to perform at our best wasn’t always fun to play under, but I know his coaching played a huge role in my growth and success as a soccer player. I was fortunate to have several great coaches as a youth, and Jon was one of the best.

Which Iowa youth team did you look forward to playing against the most and why: Honestly, I can’t remember any of the names of the Iowa youth teams we played! It’s been too long…but I remember specific players across the state that I played against in club and played with in ODP.

What was your most embarrassing moment on the soccer field: Hmm…I can think of times when I slipped and fell after a making shot or cross…but nothing super embarrassing stands out (I think I blocked out all the really embarrassing moments!) I did get a red card in college for taking down a girl on a breakaway to keep her from scoring, but it didn’t make any difference in the outcome (we were already down and lost) so that was kind of embarrassing.

Who was your funniest teammate playing for the ISC: Candice Divoky always kept things fun!

Who was your smartest teammate playing for the ISC: Probably the Karniski twins, Natasha and Christen. Or Avery Bang.

Growing up who was your all-time favorite professional soccer player: Kristine Lilly – there wasn’t a women’s professional league when I was growing up, but she was a part of the history making women’s national team! I also was a big fan of the Brazilian, Ronaldo.

Which College/University did you play for: Furman University

Did you play professional soccer? If so for which club and when: I never played in a full professional league, but I did play one season for the Charlotte Lady Eagles in 2005 (USL W-League team at that time)

What is your greatest soccer achievement: Hard to pick! I was invited to play with the Canadian National Team U-19 team during my senior year at West High, which was an amazing opportunity. Several proud moments from the 1984 Iowa ODP girls team — winning the Norway Cup in 2000 as 16-year olds playing in the U-19 division, and Region II ODP Champions. A favorite memory from a specific game is making a game-winning header goal at the last second off a cross from a one of my favorite teammates to play with at Furman.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from this questionnaire: I got into cycling while living back in Iowa for a couple of years as an adult, and completed the full week of RAGBRAI in 2012! I cycled somewhere around 500 miles over 7 days (I had only cycled a max of 20 miles in 1 day prior to that week)…it was an amazing week!

Which professional soccer/football club do you support: Most recently, Seattle Sounders while Clint Dempsey played (he was a year older than me at Furman so I’m a big a fan!)

Are you still playing soccer – if yes, for which team: Not at a competitive level and not currently…I am actually pregnant and due in July! I’ve played in adult rec leagues on and off since Furman. I was playing in a league this past fall and stopped after spraining my ankle and then finding out a few weeks later that I was pregnant. I hope I’m not finished for good but we’ll have to see how much longer my knees can hold up

What is your advice for players currently playing for the ISC:  As hard as it is when you’re young, be grateful of the opportunities, the time, and the energy that the coaches provide to you to help you grow as a player and a person. It’s so easy to take it for granted, but you’ll look back one day and realize how blessed you are to have coaches who give you their best. Push yourself to do more than you believe you can do (there is always room to improve on your potential!). Work hard, not only to improve your physical skills but to also learn mental strength. And lastly, don’t forget to have fun! Don’t be so hard on yourself to succeed that you lose your love for the game!

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David Carrasco

David Carrasco

Name: David Carrasco

Age/Birth Year: 31 — 1987

Current Profession: Software Consultant

How many years did you play soccer at the ISC: 10 years

Who were your main ISC club coaches: Homer Screws, Rob Fox, Matt Thompson, Matt Wilkerson, Jon Cook**, Corby Stone (** never actually coached one of my teams, but worked with Jon throughout the years at individual and small group training).

Who was your favorite ISC coach: Hard to say…enjoyed working with all of them so much…each coach brought something different to the table…probably Homer Screws or Matt Wilkerson.

Which High School did you attend: Iowa City West High

What is your favorite memory while playing for the ISC: All the travel with my teammates.

Which Iowa youth team did you look forward to playing against the most and why: Probably West Des Moines. A great team with a lot of quality players. I also knew a handful of them from ODP, so good to play against your ODP teammates.

What was your most embarrassing moment on the soccer field: Getting a red card for language in a tournament as a U12 player. Because of the red card, we were penalized -1 point, and did not advance in the tournament.

Who was your funniest teammate playing for the ISC: Brian Griffith

Who was your smartest teammate playing for the ISC: Dan Wallace or Dan Hegeman

Growing up who was your all-time favorite professional soccer player: Either Zinedine Zidane or Ronaldinho

Which College/University did you attend: University of Iowa

Undergraduate/Post Graduate qualification(s): B.A. Sports Business and Minor in Sport Studies

Did you play College/University soccer: No

What is your greatest soccer achievement: Winning a state championship as an assistant coach at Iowa City West High

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from this questionnaire: I love camping & hiking…general outdoor recreation.

Which professional soccer/football club do you support: Arsenal

Are you still playing soccer – if yes, for which team: Yes, various outdoor/indoor teams.

What is your advice for players currently playing for the ISC: First, put in the technical work and be patient. It’s pretty simple, you have to put in the technical work if you want to master the ball. You have to learn to love and trust the process. You might not see results after 1 day or 1 week of work, but if you put in the work day after day and are patient, you will begin to notice your technical skills improving. Do the things that are tough and hard. e.g. on-the-ball technical work by yourself, pinging 100s of passes against a wall or with a teammate, fitness, etc. Second, watch as much soccer as you can. I cannot stress the importance of watching the game…not just skill/highlight videos, but sitting down and watching a full 90 minute match. Players need to watch/study/absorb the movement, angles, runs, weight of the passes, etc. Third, play as much as you can, key word “play”. Players need to get reps in playing the game freely. Fourth, you have to train outside of team training – on your own or in small groups. It’s not enough to just show up to team training 2/3x a week with a game/games on the weekend. Fifth, when your body is fully grown, begin athletic/speed/strength training. Lastly, enjoy the game.

Katja Koroleva

Katja Koroleva

Name: Ekaterina (Katja) Koroleva

Age/Birth Year: 32/1987

Current Profession: FIFA Referee/Professional Referee

Who were your main ISC club coaches: Jon Cook, Brad Stiles, Matt Wilkerson

Who was your favorite ISC coach: Jon Cook

Which High School did you attend: IC West High

What is your favorite memory while playing for the ISC: The confidence gained from the coaching staff/club to play as a female on a boys team.

Which College/University did you attend: Coe College

Undergraduate/Post Graduate qualification(s): Coe College (Bachelors in Science), Salus University (Masters of Medical Science – Physician Assistant).

Did you play College/University soccer: Yes, two years D-III – Coe College

What is your greatest soccer achievement: Winning the Iowa State High School Championship with West High.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from this questionnaire: After playing club soccer with ISC and through Iowa ODP, the passion for soccer continued strong within me, and I pursued refereeing.Through refereeing I have been able to be a part of the game at the highest level, and referee in competitions such as the U17 World Cup and the upcoming Women’s World Cup in France in June, 2019.

Which professional soccer/football club do you support: None

Are you still playing soccer – if yes, for which team: No, however I am a FIFA Referee representing the USA.

What is your advice for players currently playing for the ISC: Through soccer we develop passion, friendships, lasting memories, respect, teamwork, and a desire to compete and succeed which we are able to achieve through various ways including playing, coaching and refereeing. Follow your dreams, dream big and know that the gateway of possibilities in soccer are limitless as long as you are willing to put in the hard work and dedication.

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Mueng Sunday

Mueng Sunday

Name: Mueng Sunday

Age/Birth Year: 24/1994

Current Profession: Sporting Iowa East – Soccer Coach

How many years did you play soccer at the ISC: 6 years with the ISC Galaxy, 3 years with Eastern Iowa United, which the ISC was a member of.

Who were your main ISC club coaches: Brad Stiles (U9-U13), Ethan Detweiler (U14-U16), Jon Cook (EIU U17-U19).

Who was your favorite ISC coach: I would have to pick Brad Stiles because we have been through a lot over the years. But I had a special and very different relationship with all of the ISC coaches. They all had different coaching styles and personalities that helped me develop different parts of my game. Even now, when I look at my own style of coaching, it is obvious that all three coaches have left an impactful mark on how I think about the game.

Which High School did you attend: Iowa City West

What is your favorite memory while playing for the ISC: My Galaxy team was very close, so every trip was a good time. But we had a heated rivalry with the Chicago Magic for a few years, and that made for some really fun and competitive games. Even though most of the games against the Magic ended in ties, both teams always showed up to perform.

Which Iowa youth team did you look forward to playing against the most and why: West Des Moines. My Galaxy team consistently proved to be the top team from Eastern Iowa, and they were the best from the Des Moines area for many years, so every game against them felt like the State Cup final.

What was your most embarrassing moment on the soccer field: When I first started playing for ISC my teammates figured it would be easier to call me chicken, my favorite food, than my actual name. But one game the other team’s players and coaches thought we were calling them chickens, so the Referee stopped the game and came up to me and asked me to tell my teammates to stop calling me chicken.

Who was your funniest teammate playing for the ISC: It is hands down Ryan Hall but if you put Ethan Holmes in the same room, you will never stop laughing.

Who was your smartest teammate playing for the ISC: It is a tie between Caleb Sedlacek and Alex Troester

Growing up who was your all-time favorite professional soccer player: Ronaldinho

Which College/University did you attend: Drake University

Undergraduate/Post Graduate qualification(s): Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance

Did you play College/University soccer: Yes at Drake University

Did you play professional soccer? If so for which club and when: After my time at Drake I was invited to preseason with MLS team Orlando City.

What is your greatest soccer achievement: It’s a tie between my 1994 Iowa ODP team being the first team from Iowa to win the ODP National Championship and my 2015 Drake team winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to move on to the NCAA Tournament

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from this questionnaire: I was born in Nigeria

Which professional soccer/football club do you support: Liverpool

Are you still playing soccer – if yes, for which team: Yes. I last played for the Des Moines Menace.

What is your advice for players currently playing for the ISC: Take advantage of the great setup and coaching that the club provides you. Soccer can teach you a lot about yourself, open up many different opportunities in life, and give you some of the greatest experiences you’ll ever have, but that is if you want it to.

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