To succeed at anything in life, one must be full of enthusiasm, resolve and most importantly, talent. The embodiment of all these qualities, teamates and coaches said third-year Men’s Soccer Captain Tommy Garafola has proven himself time and time again to be a devoted and formidable athlete on and off the field.
Voted team captain in the spring of his first year, Garafola was deeply affected by his promotion to such a prestigious position on the team, and has since tried to never let his teammates down.
“This was a very special honor to receive as only a freshman, to have my teammates trust and have confidence in me since I was so young,” Garafola said. “As captain, I feel as if I have a strong relationship with every player on the team. I do my best to mentally prepare my teammates for each game and try to motivate them through my play.”
Although he became the soccer team captain at a young age, Garafola is no stranger to the game. He said he’s been running around a soccer field for most of his life.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was four years old,” he said. “My parents put me into soccer because they said I had too much energy when I was younger.”
That energy was put to good use with Garafola continuing to play soccer in high school at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, N.Y. During his tenure as a member of the school soccer team, Garafola tallied 37 goals and was named team MVP. Garafola also scored the overtime playoff goal in the quarterfinals against Monsignor Farrell, played for the Auburndale Jaguars as a midfielder and recorded 13 goals and 14 assists and he played in the 2007 Empire State Games but lost on penalty kicks to Adirondack in the gold-medal game.
In 2008, after he became a student at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, Garafola joined the soccer team and during his first season he appeared in all nineteen games for the Hawks, tallied four goals, a team-high of seven assists, recorded 20 shots on the goal and buried a game-winning goal against Vassar College. His success would continue into the next season.
In 2009, Garafola and his teammates achieved NSCAA All-East Region Third Team and Second-Team All-SUNYAC. Garafola also scored his first goal of the year in a 4-3 win over SUNY Old Westbury on Sept. 12, provided two assists in a 3-2 victory over Vassar College on Sept. 13. He netted the game-winner on a penalty kick versus Bard College on Oct. 6 and tallied two assists in the Hawks’ 4-2 triumph over SUNY Cortland on Oct. 24 and boasted a team-high of eight assists.
Garafola hopes the triumph will continue this season. The Men’s Soccer team has started the season with a 5-4-0 and they hope perform well in conference matchups.
“We feel that we are a playoff team with a good chance of winning it all,” said Garafola.
Head coach of the Men’s Soccer team Eric Watson, has seen Garafola’s hard work first hand and appreciates his contributuons to the team.
“Tommy has raised the level of play at New Paltz with his work ethic and desire to make everyone around him a better person and player,” Watson said. “Tommy has shown a tremendous amount of growth as a player since coming to New Paltz. He has a much better understanding of how to play within a system and what it takes to not only compete but win.”
Watson’s earned respect after the 2-0 victory against Vassar College on Sept. 11, achieved through Garafola’s two goals.
Garafola said soccer is his greatest passion.
“I contribute my success to my work ethic, love for the game and support from my parents,” Garafola said. “Soccer equals life for me. I play everyday whether I am in season or just training on my own.”