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Luke Pavone is an American professional soccer player currently playing for the Richmond Kickers of USL League One. Pavone attended UMass for a season and then transferred to Buffalo State where he became a star player. Following being named an All-American in college, Pavone went to Israel and played his first professional season with Hapoel Petah Tikva FC. After a great time both on and off the pitch in Israel, Pavone came back to the States and signed with the Richmond Kickers. A great player, Pavone is a true team player and will do anything to help the team find success.
1. Growing up in New York, what was your youth career like?
Growing up in NY, it’s cold so you have to find a lot of indoor training but I was thankful to play for a very good club in Jr. Rhinos/Empire United. We won 9 state championships and 1 Regional championship.
2. What was your deciding factor in committing to the University of Massachusetts?
It was a dream of mine to play division 1 & I have a lot of family in Boston which is why I chose Umass.
3. While at UMass you made an immediate presence, playing in 12 games and starting in eleven of them. What was your mindset like throughout your freshman year?
Freshman year mindset was to be the fittest person coming into pre season & was going to outwork every player. Attitude and grit come before talent.
4. Overall, how were you two years at UMass?
I loved UMass, I would’ve never left if my coach didn’t pass away after my freshman year. It was the perfect school for me & I met some amazing people.
5. What was your reasoning behind your transfer to Buffalo State?
My dad had committed suicide when I was 18 right before I left for UMass. I had an amazing support system but when my coach who recruited me to Umass (Sam Koch) passed away from cancer after my first season things weren’t the same on and off the pitch. I wasn’t in the right place mentally and wanted to be closer to home!
6. In your two years at Buffalo State, you became a star, scoring 19 goals and assisting on 9. How was your tenure with Buffalo State?
Buffalo state was a blessing in disguise. I had very minimal distractions and focused on myself & how I could improve not only as an athlete but mentally. I found my peace mentally and kicked my training up intensively throughout my time in buffalo.
7. What’s your greatest collegiate soccer memory?
Bicycle kick in England in front of the Portsmouth scout on our pre season trip.
8. What’s your biggest advice for collegiate athletes transferring to other schools looking to make a difference while playing their new squad?
Just put the head down, grind & get to work. People will want to talk or say negative things but it’s important to just know your goals/dreams & how you can achieve them. College is a crucial time to find yourself both mentally and physically.
9. While in college you also played for FC Buffalo of the NPSL. How was your summer with Buffalo?
My summer with FC Buffalo was hit & miss. I didn’t play as much as I’d like to & felt I wasn’t given the proper opportunity to showcase myself, so I made sure I took it as a window to improve. But it was nice being a young player and gaining experience with more experienced guys.
10. You mentioned the tough times you had before leaving for UMass. Mentally, how did you stay strong throughout those tough periods of your life?
It’s never been easy mentally since then. But I’d say the biggest thing has been channeling my negative mental energy into my training. I call it “training in the dark”, it’s my way of kind of shutting the world out, putting my head down and just getting the work done. But mainly my friends and family have been a huge help.
11. After and during college, you also played for your hometown club the Rochester Lancers (NPSL side). What did Lena do for you to play for your hometown club?
Playing NPSL in Rochester was a really cool experience. I always wanted to play for the Rhinos growing up. But the biggest take away from this time period for me was it gave me a lot of the confidence I had lost in the previous years.
12. In 2018, you signed your first professional contract with Hapoel Petah Tikva FC through help of the same agent Yaya Toure has! Describe the process of signing in Israel and the story on how you did it.
this is a long one and probably a question for a separate interview! A monumental time in my life, the biggest learning experience for me as a player and an individual. Longest story short, I went on a trip called ‘Birthright’ and fell in love with the country. Told me agent I’d like to explore my options out there. Extended my trip to trial with some teams. Came back to the states to get my Israeli citizenship. Ended up signing with H. Petach Tikvah on a 2 year deal but some very unfortunate events happened while I was there and had to come home 4 months later. You’ll have to call me for more info haha!!
13. What was your time in Israel like? What did you learn not just as a player, but as a person on the other other side of the world?
This is a golden question, Chris. All I’ll say is I have unfinished business in Israel. It’s an amazing country that I’d move back to in a heartbeat if the opportunity was right. Living in a foreign country and having to fend for yourself is a humbling and very eye opening experience that taught me more about myself and life than I could’ve ever imagined. I found out who I was & the person I wanted to become in Israel.
14. After the time in Israel, you’ve been signed and playing for the Richmond Kickers. How’s your experience in Richmond been so far?
Playing for Richmond has been amazing. They were the first club to give me an opportunity after I thought my career was over after leaving Israel. I broke my leg last year so it was a tough year but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love Richmond and am happy to call it my second home.
15. How have you been staying fit as a team during quarantine?
Thankfully our league is back in action next weekend so we’ve been back in team training. But over quarantine training was very difficult because it was up to you to get the right work done and had to find spaces to train that you normally wouldn’t. A lot of ‘old school’ fitness and running.
16. Go to snack on the road?
Peanut butter pretzels or gummies
17. Favorite city you’ve ever traveled to?
Tel Aviv, Israel
18. Best player you’ve ever played against?
19. In three words, describe yourself?
Passionate, intense & caring.
20. Without saying ‘I’, who is Luke Pavone?
A team player who hates losing more than winning. Would run through a brick wall for my teammates.
21. How do you cope with pressure?
I try to always control my breathing throughout a match. But the easiest way to cope with pressure for me is to play with a smile on my face and try to enjoy the game.
22. Any last words for the readers?
Dream big and don’t let failure stop you from pursuing that dream. Firm believer that one must fail at some point in order to succeed in life.
Big thank you to Luke for the amazing interview! Truly an amazing player and a great person! A real inspiration! Keep up the great work and wishing you the best of luck in the future, Luke!
A huge sports fan who loves to learn about all sports, from every corner of the world!