This fall, Pioneer seniors Tristan Jacob and Ahinga Selemani plan to take the soccer field once again but this time for the Michigan Wolverines. to edit.
For Selemani, Playing soccer has never been just a hobby. Playing soccer is essentially a family tradition for the Selemanis. Selemani primarily got involved because his dad used to play and it was only a matter of time before he would start to get serious about the sport.
Soccer has become one of the biggest parts of Selemani’s life and his family has been nothing but his biggest fans. "If it weren’t for my family I wouldn’t be where I am today and I am so grateful for that. They have helped every step of the way with all their love and support," says Selemani.
Both of Selemani’s sides of the family have backgrounds in soccer. “I personally played soccer until very recently in Ann Arbor, and was what I loved to do. Not only do we enjoy how Ahinga plays and conducts himself as a person, his soccer has given us many friends in Michigan. It has been a huge blessing for the family," says Manyongo Selemani, Ahinga’s dad.
Similar to Selemani, Jacob followed in his father’s footsteps from a young age. “I started playing because my dad had played soccer all his life and he got me into it. He also coached our Rec & Ed neighborhood team for a while when I was just getting started," says Jacob. When Jacob began playing soccer he found a passion for it and knew it was something that he wanted to pursue in his future. “I'm so passionate about soccer because it gives me a happiness I don't get from anything else. I forget about everything going on when I play soccer, and I can just do me while I'm playing," says Jacob.
Jacob and Selemani have come a long way to get this far, but they both had to start small. As they gained the skills and techniques to become better soccer players, they began playing for club teams. Along their journeys they have met great people, and made great friendships. Pioneer Senior, Peter Tappenden, is both one of Jacob and Selemani’s good friends. “I've known Ahinga and Tristan for a very long time because we played together since fourth grade for Ann Arbor United. We were all on the same team until sophomore year when I left to play for Vardar Academy," says Tappanden. Having played with Jacob and Selemani for so many years, Tappanden knows both of their playing styles very well. “Ahinga is an athletic striker who always has his mind on scoring goals, while Tristan is more focused on assisting the goals from his position at center mid," says Tappanden.
As for both Selemani and Jacob, they have great futures ahead of them. They applied to numerous colleges and received scholarships from several schools, but both chose The University of Michigan. “Ever since I started playing it was always a dream to play college soccer because Michigan was right next door so my dad would take me to games and I knew that's what I wanted when I was older and I looked up to the guys at Michigan," says Jacob. “I always dreamed of going pro my whole entire life, and hopefully excelling at the college level will give me the chance to obtain that goal," says Selemani.
This fall, Jacob and Selemani will officially be part of The University of Michigan men’s soccer team. They have already begun some training for the upcoming season and have met their new teammates. As for their friends and family, they are more than proud of both of them. “I think it's awesome that they're staying close to home and representing a team that they've cheered on for since a young age,” says Tappenden. “Michigan is a big time program and it's cool that they'll suit up in the maize and blue next year.