Meeting A Dreamer

Meeting A Dreamer

Did you have big dreams growing up, but sort of forgot about them?

“Every week I will be writing about my lifestyle as a professional athlete and how I became the man and athlete I am today. I want my writings to help people understand that uniqueness and willingness go a long way in making someone successful. But today let me tell how I got to where I am..."

When we are in our younger years of life we constantly hear the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us want to be police officers. Other want to be doctors or veterinarians, and there are those select few who fall in love with a sport and fantasize about becoming a professional athlete.

I was one of those little boys growing up who loved a ball more than anything else. I, Vincenzo Marco Antonio Nicola Constantino Candela Lopez (yes that is my real name, thanks dad), dreamed of kicking a soccer ball in a “hooligan” packed stadium.

Born in Colombia, to a passionate Italian father and a competitive Colombian mother you could pretty much say that soccer was in my blood from the get go. At age 4, my family was forced out of Colombia because of violence in the country and we relocated in search of the American dream in Sunny Isles, Florida. We spent our first three months in America living in a Best Western, praying that things would get better. I started school, and my parents noticed I was a bit weird and hyper so they put me on a soccer team. And boom, it was there on those torn up soccer fields of Highland Oaks Park on Ives Dairy Road where a young kindergartener would kick and scream for the first time opening the gateway to a dream of becoming a Professional Athlete.

As the years zoomed by the world was changing but my mentality and will to be great never altered. Age 10, "Vincenzo what do you want to be when you grow up?" Age 12, “Vincenzo what do you want to be when you grow up?” Age 15, same question and with the same answer every single time. Teachers and older individuals tortured me to pick another profession. But I simply could not envision myself doing anything else when I was older. I wanted to be a professional soccer player .

I always kept at it and trained every day of the week. My angelic mom drove me to the end of earth and back so I could get the best trainings. I would rather go out for a jog or find an empty field to find solace rather than go with friends to pick up girls or a party. I always remembered my parents repeating over and over “if you are going to do something be the best at it." And before every training, even to this day, I repeat that phrase in my head to get myself going. It was not easy but I found happiness in sacrifices and working hard.

Fast forward a couple of years now, August 2009, my first day of high school. I did not go to the massive public school that I was zoned for, like all of my friends. Two of my close friends (who also played soccer) and I choose to attend a very small private preparatory school who contacted us to play soccer for them. A preparatory school gets you prepared for college, and the ironic thing is I never wanted to go to college. The school counselors laughed more than once at me for telling them that. I laughed back; I didn’t know what was so funny to them. They, like many others before, tried to change my mindset about my future. Of course, they failed in trying to change me. I do not care what people think about me or the decisions I choose to take. I will do what pleases my heart because there is only one person who can judge my actions: God.

Now, this new school we choose to attend was a culture shock for us. We were three foreign kids who were thrown into a completely new world. We had each other and no one else in the beginning. We were always together, which led us to getting the nickname "The Three Musketeers." Every day, we would pray for the school days to end so we could leave the confinement that was forced upon to find happiness in football after school. High school did end up getting better (even though we talked about leaving every day) and in our second year at the school, we helped the school win its first ever state title in any sport.

That taste of success was a gateway for me. I wanted more, I was hungry for success. I felt for the first time that I was ready to take a leap of faith.

After my sophomore year in high school, I decided (with my parents blessing) to leave school and finish my courses online so that I would have more time to focus on my craft. What I was doing was unheard of where I grew up. I had people judge me hard for leaving school, being called a bum, an idiot , and a loser for chasing what people considered an unrealistic dream. My decision was very simple. I had already figured out what I wanted to be in life and felt that I needed to get ready for my future, and no school could get me prepared to be a soccer player. So I left.

I thought life was going to be a walk in the park without having to attend school, but boy was I wrong. Every day I would wake up at 6:15 a.m., a quick shower, have breakfast and drive 45 minutes to train. We would train for about two hours every morning, two more hours at the gym at noon, and another two hours in the evening. I would get home around 9 p.m. every night and do my school courses. It was brutal to say the least, but I loved every minute of the suffering. I did not miss school. I was happy I broke away from the stereotype that was associated with being a high schooler in South Florida.

It feels like almost everyone in America follows the same path growing up. Six years of elementary school, three of middle school, four of high school, go to college and get some job where you ultimately end up becoming an average Joe. I stepped off the basic assembly line and risked a comfortable life for a chance to be someone; for a chance to be heard. I hate mediocracy. I did not want to be an Average Joe with an average job. I was a dreamer and I would do anything to achieve it. I was told by many people that they had never seen such a determined young man who was so clear with what he wanted to do. “Forget girls and parties, sacrifice yourself for a couple years and when you get to the top they will be there waiting for you.” One of my coaches growing up told me that and it had a huge impact in my life because I truly believed every single word. And today I can confirm it is true.

After ten months of relentless three-a-days, I got the chance at age seventeen to go train with one of the best academies in Valencia, Spain. It was an opportunity and I grabbed it by the horns. I said goodbye to my friends, to my parents and just as a dreamed of doing, I set off to the Mecca of football. I was headed to Europe. I killed myself in trainings in Spain. I did not want to take anything for granted. I would always try to arrive early to training so that I could juggle a tennis ball to better my technique. And, I would stay after training to jog so that I could improve my fitness. There were days when I called home and just felt like saying that I wanted to come back and that it was too tough. But the support system I had with friends and family never let me even think about going back. I willed myself through, and it would pay off.

Just six months into my experience in Spain a huge sports agency contacted me and offered me to join a professional club in Portugal. I would play for their youth team and boy was I excited. I had cemented myself in European football. After playing one year of youth football in Portugal I was ready to make the jump to play with the big boys. I did not want any more youth soccer; I wanted to be on a professional roster.

In the summer of 2013, I had tryouts lined up to try to make a professional team. I was rejected by a team in Portugal and a first division and second division team in Italy. I was devastated. After being rejected the third time, I called my father and tears just started flowing. I thought it was the end. I thought I would have to go back to America, go to school and be what I feared the most, being average. I had one more tryout left with a team in Germany. It was Germany or bust. And that pressure brought out the best in me and was offered a one-year contract. I made it, I was a professional footballer. I had people tell me I would never make it. They told me I was too small, too weak. But, they never measured my heart. Everyone I see I tell them to risk what they have to follow a dream. If you believe in yourself and have the will and determination you can achieve anything. Your mind can move walls, so do not ever think you are too weak to accomplish greatness.

Cover Image Credit: Vincenzo Candela

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7 Lies From F*ckboys That We've All Fallen For At Least Once

They might've had you goin' for a hot second, but you know better now.

There’s no use in even frontin’; we’ve all been there. You know he’s a f*ckboy from the beginning, but you’re interested in pursuing him anyway. Ain't no thang; I fully support you.

You tell yourself you won’t fall for his games or lies because you’ve been through it all so many times before. Yet, time and time again, you find yourself slippin’ for a hot second, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt until he inevitably disappoints you. Here are the top seven lies you’ve heard from f*ckboys that get you heated every time.

1. You’re the only girl I’m talking to/sleeping with

HAHAHA. OK, first, I don't actually care what (or who) you're doing in your spare time because you're definitely not the only guy I'm seeing either. I'm just asking so I know you're clean, OK? I don't need more stress in my life.

2. I know how to treat girls right

Isn't it super ironic how the WORST f*ckboys are the ones to toss this line?

3. I’ll text you

This statement is so unbelievable that on the off chance that they do actually text you, you basically fall out of your chair in shock.

4. I’m gonna give it to you good

I cry/cringe/die of laughter every time I hear this one because it's always the mediocre ones that throw this line. None of my most memorable hookups have ever said this because their actions clearly speak for them. Mediocre boys, TAKE NOTE.

5. Damn, I wanted to see you though

Well, you were supposed to, but then you clearly had other plans in mind. So the desire wasn’t all that intense, obviously.

6. Yeah, she and I broke up

CLASSIC LIE. CLASSIC. Sure, I believed it the first couple of times, but don’t even try that sh*t with me after I see she’s still blowin’ up your line.

7. *No response for hours after making plans* Damn, sorry I fell asleep

Honestly, how many times are you gonna throw that line when you’re literally viewable on Snap Map. BOY, I see you at someone else’s house. Stop frontin’, there’s no point.

Again, don't ask me why we put up with this sh*t because the mystery remains. I guess in our own sick, twisted ways, we crave the dramatics and thrills that come from their f*ckery. Whatever the reason, though, at least we've got some ~fun~ stories to tell.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube | I'm Shmacked

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From Practices To Performances, Dance Teams Take Over Stony Brook University

I found a community of people who finally shared my interests that I hid for years. It's great to finally have a crew who all cares about the same thing.


While many students at Stony Brook University like to go home or to the library on late nights, dance teams take over academic buildings around campus to practice for performances.

Practicing in places like Earth and Space Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Center for Leadership and Service, groups like KBS, CDT and PUSO Modern practice two or three times a week to prepare for events like Seawolves Showcase and Asian Night and for competitions like the Prelude Dance Competition.

The KBS Dance Team, a group that focuses on dancing to K-Pop and K-Hip-Hop, has performed at events on campus like CASB Cultural Carnival and Asian Night. The team even has a subgroup of some members of the team who have extra practices and experiment with different styles of music and dance.

Nicole Lombino, a KBS manager said, "I found a community of people who finally shared my interests that I hid for years. It's great to finally have a crew who all cares about the same thing."

This semester, KBS had practices twice a week and practiced for about two hours at each practice. The director and the two managers lead practice which includes presenting choreography, learning new dances, creating dance formations and cleaning members' movements to look as neat as possible before performances.

"KBS isn't a competitive team so you're not pressured to compete with anyone or beat someone else at something," Tina Ng, the current director of KBS and a member of CDT said, "You're just doing it for fun."

Many members on the team are freshmen and have never danced before being on KBS.

"Even in this one semester, I've seen them grow as dancers," Lombino said, "From the first to second performance, it's staggering how much they've improved."

Dancing on a team at Stony Brook University is more than just a club, it's a commitment. And members on the executive board of dance teams have to organize performances, make sure practices run smoothly, and serve as mentors for their teammates.

"I'm responsible for this team and my eboard and I have to share the weight and any difficulties," Iris Au, a KBS manager said. "I have to actively participate and contribute to the team, which is different from when I was just a team member."

The breakdancing club on campus, the Stony Brook Breakers, have open practices and have members that help people learn breakdancing, regardless of skill. They practice in the Health Sciences Tower and the university's Recreation Center.

Breakdancing moves like windmills, headspins and baby spins are moves that the Breakers have had to work hard to learn and are still difficult for members.

While many dance teams hold auditions to be in the group, a couple of teams hold dance workshops where anyone can attend to learn short pieces, usually between 30 seconds and one minute.

Adam Sotero, a member of the dance team Deja Vu, helped organize a workshop featuring guest teachers from PUSO Modern, Cadence Step Team and Heartbreak Crew.

"The purpose of the workshop was to engage more in the dance community and showcase everyone's different styles," Sotero said. "My favorite part about these events is engaging with other members of the dance community, whether they are old or new friends."

Apart from members of Deja Vu, over 50 people attended the workshop that was held in SAC Ballroom A. The attendees learned two hip-hop pieces and one step dancing piece.

CDT also held three workshop days two weeks ago, featuring teachers from CDT, KBS, and Outburst Dance Company. The workshops focused on K-Pop, hip-hop and urban dance.

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