Up Close & Personal with Justin Canel
Oct. 18, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Justin Canel has been with the Santa Clara men's soccer program since 1998 and has loved every minute of it. The senior from Tarzana, Calif. missed the final 14 games of his junior year due to injury, but has started 10 of the team's 11 games this year, making an impact with his skills and keeping the team loose with his unique style of levity.
Although he technically has one more season, there is still some uncertainty at this point if he will utilize that extra year of eligibility next season for the Broncos. Regardless of his decision on next year, the Broncos are thrilled to have him back and healthy for the 2001 season.
He recently sat down and shared his thoughts on the team's future, what his future might entail and the origin of his flip-throw.
Q: Where did the crowd pleasing Flip-Throw come from?
A: "I started doing it probably back when I was in eighth grade. I actually saw a girl do it in a tournament down south and I thought to myself that I could do that since I have always been pretty good at gymnastic type things. The first time I tried it though I landed on my butt so hard that I thought I broke my tailbone (laughs). I tried it again and was able to throw it across my street, and eventually was able to throw it all the way to my house. So that's where it originated from."
Q: What's the closest you have come to scoring on that kind of throw-in?
A: "Actually, my sophomore year against Saint Mary's, they gave me the goal because the throw-in hit one of their defenders and went in the goal. So I have actually scored on the flip-thow."
Q: What has your experience been like here at Santa Clara over the past four years?
A: "I have loved it! Actually I didn't hear about Santa Clara until a few months before I decided to go and after I went I found out that I had two aunts that went here, so I actually have a family tradition of going here. I love it here. I really didn't know what to expect but all of the soccer guys and even the people I meet outside of athletics have been really great."
Q: You guys seem to be very cohesive as a team right now. What has the team chemistry been like this year?
A: "Definitely, we are beginning to gel right now. My freshman and sophomore years the team was incredibly tight. Then my junior year I felt that something just wasn't clicking for us, but this year I think we are back to the way things were my freshman and sophomore years. We go out together, we do stuff together. On and off the field we are best friends."
Q: With one conference game under your belt, what does the rest of the WCC season look like?
A: "It's tough. It's extremely tough! One game is no less important that the other. We definitely have some momentum going with us right now after the win over USD but I think that each game will be just as important as the next because it is a do or die situation for us right now. We can't afford to look ahead of any team."
Q: What is your favorite soccer memory of all time in your soccer career?
A: "It has to be the National Championship game during my sophomore year down in Charlotte. It was so nerve racking. The guys still give me a hard time because I don't know if I exactly had the best game of my life in the semifinal game but it was so fun. The fans, the television cameras, it was just the whole thing. You feel so professional. It is something that I will never forget."
Q: When did you decide that soccer was the game that you wanted to pursue?
A: "I think it was kind of thrown on me at birth (laughs). My dad's side of the family is from Argentina so they are die-hard fans. I have had a lot of uncles that have played professionally in Argentina so I was growing up with a stuffed soccer ball not a stuffed teddy bear. I played other sports but middle school is when I realized that this was the game for me and so I just kept with it."
Q: What do your plans include after this year?
A: "I have another year of eligibility left after this year so there is a good chance that I will come back but a lot of it depends on how the team does and how I do. If I do come back it would be to just go all the way. I would love to play after college, hopefully make it to the MLS or A-League, something like that."
Q: Do you have a favorite memory or story of Coach Murray?
A: "(Big Laugh) Actually, yeah I do. Halloween is always during the season and I do a fairly good impersonation of Coach. So one time I put on the beanie, the sweatshirt and the pants and I came out as Coach to practice. I came out and started bossing everybody around with him right in front of me and he actually laughed. I don't think anyone will ever forget that moment. I know he won't."
Q: Who is the person you most admire?
A: "I hate to sound like a cliché, but I would have to say my Dad, for a lot of reasons. He has been up and down a lot in his life, but as many times as he gets knocked down, he gets right back up. That is such an admirable quality about him and I just hope that through the course of my life I can be as successful as he is right now. He just has such determination that I hope I can go through life having."
Q: Have you given any advice to this year's big freshmen class and how are they progressing this year?
A: "Actually they are progressing really nicely. It's always very nerve-racking when you come in as a freshman. I remember one game I started as a freshman against Gonzaga, and I was just a wreck! That's the main thing, you just want to get their nerves settled more than anything, and get them thinking so they don't look lost and like a chicken with their head cut off. It's definitely a different game than what they are used to and we encourage them to come and talk to us even off the field and after games. We know how hectic it is to be thrown into the college scene so we can help them out. They are progressing really nicely though, and I know for a fact that the years to come that they will lead this team to many playoff victories."