When Ryuta Hayakawa is in his element on the soccer field, the excitement is palpable. You get caught up in his dazzling footwork. You get the sense that soccer is intuitive.
That remarkable knowledge of the game has not been lost on new head coach Matthew Gerlach.
“Ryuta has the technical skill to make any defender look foolish,” he said. “He attacks with quickness and makes those around him better.”
Sophomore Jordan Stoltzfus agrees. He says players going up against Hayakawa pale in comparison.
“No one else can match his footwork,” he said. “He will make you look silly and he’ll be around you before you even knew what happened.”
Fellow teammates like Freshman Stephen Gonzalez are impressed, too. Although the Larks 2-6-1 record could be discouraging, Gonzalez says Hayakawa plays a key role in boosting team spirit. In fact, several say he’s the most positive guy they know.
“Ryuta has a great shot and has a good eye for goal,” Gonzalez said. “But what sets him apart is he is always boosting morale by keeping a positive attitude both on and off the field.”
Clearly Ryuta has soccer skills, but that’s not the only thing his teammates love about him. Gonzalez said the most inspirational thing about Ryuta is a great teammate, soccer player and even better friend.
“Earlier this year I was having a hard time studying macroeconomics because I did not have a book. I was lost about what to do since I could not afford one from the bookstore and it was going to take to long to order it online. Ryuta heard about my trouble and offered to sell me his used book for a lot cheaper then I could find. Without Ryuta I would be struggling with class and the soccer team wouldn’t be as aggressive.”
Sophomore Zach Stauffer also enjoys the diversity Hayakawa brings to the team.
“The best thing about him being my teammate is the culture he brings,” Stauffer said. “I love learning new words in Japanese from him.”
Ryuta and the Larks will next take the home field on October 1st against Garden City Community College.