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Valencia's Michael Fischbach: His time to shine

Fischbach is out to make the most of his senior season — and not just on the pitch

Posted: January 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia High senior Michael Fischbach has put in a lot of time with both the soccer and baseball programs. That’s a good thing for the Vikings, because he’s the lone returning starter on the soccer team and has helped bring the more inexperienced players up to speed.

 

It’s not so much that Michael Fischbach wasn’t already an important piece of the team.

The timing is just right for him now.

As the lone returning starter for Valencia High boys soccer this season, the senior midfielder is finally enjoying the fruits of his labor.

It’s about time he gets a little time in the spotlight, given the amount of time he’s dedicated both the soccer and baseball programs Valencia.

“He’s that guy that paid his dues, played his role, did what he was asked to do, and now he’s asked to do even more being the senior guy on the team,” says Tony Scalercio, Valencia’s head soccer coach.

What’s he being asked to do now?

Just about everything.

As an outside midfielder, he has to play physically and he has to constantly move up and down the field.

He has to help out on the offensive end at times, but his priority is defense on a team that emphasizes limiting opponents’ scoring chances.

With a youthful squad like Valencia, Fischbach is naturally asked to guide the new players.

All the extra responsibility isn’t a problem for someone like him, though.

If anything, he’s embraced it.

“He is the epitome of what an athlete is,” says Valencia baseball head coach Jared Snyder. “He comes to practice every day. He’s a hard worker, whether it’s soccer or baseball. Any kid who’s athletic enough to play both sports like Michael is going to be critical to our success.”

In 10 games for the varsity baseball team last year, he batted .294 while mostly playing left field.

This season, Snyder says he’ll likely be a consistent leadoff hitter, and similar to his stance on the soccer team, he’ll play a much bigger role.

Sure, there are times when the two sports overlap and Fischbach has to run from one practice to the next.

During fall semesters throughout high school, his schedule has usually involved baseball practice directly after school from 2-5 p.m. followed by soccer from 5-7 p.m.

Both sports have been in his life dating back to when he lived in Connecticut and later New York at a young age.

When he was 8, Fischbach’s family moved to the West Coast, where his passion for sports only grew.

When it’s not soccer or baseball, somewhere in the few remaining hours of the day he’s got to find time to do homework, too.

But players like Fischbach don’t know how to let up.

“There was a time where I wasn’t sure I was going to continue doing both,” Fischbach says, “but I guess I’ve never had the heart to let go of either one.”

His reluctance to dial his schedule down a notch doesn’t surprise the people around him.

Fischbach’s constant high-level, high-energy disposition is exactly what he wants to pass on to the next crop of soccer players.

“You’ve got to learn how to bring that every day, and you can never take a game off and never take a play off,” Fischbach says.

With Valencia’s abundance of first-time varsity players, a veteran like Fischbach bridges the experience gap on the team.

“We have a pretty inexperienced team this year. Although we have a lot of seniors, we don’t have a lot of seniors that have a lot of experience at the varsity level,” says senior teammate Brett Schreiber. “Just before games, he gets everybody ready to go because he knows getting ready for a varsity game is different than getting ready for a JV game.”

Scalercio confirms that he has never instructed Fischbach to give pregame or halftime speeches.

It’s just what the normally soft-spoken senior saw fit to do.

And at least one player thinks he’s doing a pretty good job.

“Michael will always find the words to get us going, to really motivate us to step up and do what we need to do for the game,” says junior teammate Jake Veiga, one of the newcomers this year.

It makes sense that Fischbach would offer advice on handling the stresses of varsity given his experience with multiple sports.

In soccer, it could be a game-deciding penalty kick attempt in the final minutes.

Or in baseball terms, he might face a 3-2 count with two outs and a runner on third base in a tie game. It’s the bottom of the ninth.

The pressure’s on.

“They’ve been in every situation, whether it’s soccer or baseball,” Snyder says of two-sport athletes. “There’s nothing that they haven’t come across that they’re not going to face in any other sport.”

Given any situation, no matter how high the stakes, you can bet Fischbach is up to the task.

That’s why he’s the captain.

That’s why, when he speaks up before soccer games, people listen.

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