FAIRMONT — Editor’s Note: This is the first of an ongoing series featuring former Fairmont Senior and current Fairmont State women’s soccer player, Gabi Mascaro.
Gabi Mascaro and the Fairmont State women’s soccer team is preparing for the team’s inaugural season. Mascaro, a local product, is likely to be at the forefront of the team’s charge into the future. This week, Mascaro discussed life after high school in preparation for college.
High school soccer is over for you and you’re going into your first year of college. How’s it feel?
It’s definitely a bittersweet experience. I still get to play with a Fairmont jersey on, but I’m going into a level where I’m going to be playing with girls who are better or are as good as me. And I think I’m ready for it.
What types of steps are you taking to prepare for college soccer?
Well, I’m still on a club team called the Mountaineer United Soccer Shox. Actually we recently just finished our season about a week ago. So I’ve been training three times a week with them. But other than that, my future Fairmont State coach (Pat McGinnis) gave me a summer workout packet so I’ve been doing that on the days that I don’t have training.
It’s been tough. Some days I haven’t finished the workout and some days I’ve wanted to do more. So I’m taking it day by day.
Speaking of your soccer teammates, have you met any of your Fairmont State teammates yet?
No, I haven’t met any new ones yet, but I know a few that I used to play with and play against. I know a girl from Bridgeport who is very good so I’m excited to play with her. And I know a few from down south that I used to play ODP (Olympic Development Program) with. We’ve been texting back and forth, and we’re both really excited to play on the same team again.
Coach McGinnis, this is obviously his first year at Fairmont State and he’s bringing in a new era for soccer in general around here. How do you feel about him as a coach?
Coach McGinnis is probably actually 90 percent of the reason I chose Fairmont State. I really, really respect him as a coach. I think he’s a great coach. I love working for him. He’s one of those coaches that makes you want to play for him and get better for him.
Like I said, I’ve had him before so I know what I’m getting into and I know what to expect. So I think I’m going to receive a lot more than I have with him at the college level.
This is Fairmont State’s first year for women’s soccer. How exciting is that for you as a player?
It’s really exciting. I didn’t think that Fairmont State would ever get a team by this time when I was little.
My mom works here and my dad works here, and I grew up playing on this high school when I was little, high school, rec leagues. And so when I found out that they were getting a team, it really put college in a whole new perspective.
I really wanted to go away so bad but choosing Fairmont State, I’m really, really proud to say that I’m the foundation of Fairmont State women’s soccer and I’m going to make everyone proud.
Like you said, you grew up here. So being a local athlete, how does it feel to be able to usher in that new era of women’s soccer in this area?
A few weeks ago, I was training by myself at East-West Stadium. And when I was working out, a man stopped me and he asked me what my name was and I told him that I was Gabi Mascaro. And he was like, “You’re going to Fairmont State, right?” And I was like, “Yeah!” And he told me, he stopped and he said, “I really respect your decision for going to Fairmont State and I just want to let you know that I’m rooting for you.” And when he walked away, I almost started crying. That’s the reason I stayed at Fairmont State.
I just want to make the whole town proud and let them know that this isn’t just some junk program. We’re going to be really big competition for everyone we’re about to play.
How much have you been practicing this summer on your own?
Like I said, my club team was still training so I had three days with them. A lot of athletes like to take Sundays off but Sunday is usually my jog day. I guess that could be “taking off” but every single day I’m working to get better. I’m working to get fit. Because you can fix fit.
You can’t fix the people that you’re playing against. You can’t fix the people that you’re playing with. But you can fix yourself and you can fix your fitness. That’s what I’m mainly working on.
Sports aside, you’re going from high school to college. How are you preparing for that in general?
Actually, (this) week I leave to go on an internship. I’m studying biology here at Fairmont State but my goal for when I’m older, I want to study marine mammals.
So, I will be leaving on July 9 for 20 days to live on a boat in the Caribbean to study turtles and sharks. And I’m really, really excited about that because I get three college credits with that; I get my underwater SCUBA diving license; I get a sailing license. It’s really just going to be a good experience.
How has your first summer after high school been for you?
This has probably been the best summer I think because all of us know we’re leaving. Like my very, very good friend Ivey Nucilli, we’ve both played soccer together since we were very, very young and she’s going away and I’m staying here so we’ve been together every single day. And not just us two but all of my other friends who are going away too.
We’ve just been cherishing every single day and doing something every single day. That’s why we don’t waste summer.
Highlight of your week?
The highlight of my week was probably coming home from Rhode Island. What we did there was, I’m a part of a very, very high competitive club team and we go to the region tournament every single year. We’ve won state the past eight years, which no one has done that as a club team in West Virginia, so we’re really proud of that. And we won our first game and won our second game to a team that demolished us the year before and then the last game we didn’t win but we lost, 2-1, to a team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation. So that was a really big step for us. We made a statement that West Virginia soccer isn’t a joke any more and that we can compete with anybody.