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Sammy Sergi on coming “full circle” with Loudoun United

The Loudoun forward talks about his path back home and what it means to him.

Courtesy Loudoun United

It is approximately six miles from Segra Field to Broad Run High School, both of which are familiar points in Sammy Sergi’s life. The 25-year-old forward spent his high school days as a Spartan, playing soccer, and was also a kicker for the football team. When he wasn’t at high school he was a participant at Loudoun Soccer, housed across the street from Segra, and the neighborhood remains a bond for him, so when he scored his first professional goal at Segra in a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls II in May, that bond was one of the first things he thought about.

“It was cool for it to come full circle, it was unique because I grew up with this special family, where all of our parents were like family and friends, they all ended up either driving me to practice to raising me from afar or when my parents were out of town. And to this day, they’re all still in constant communication and the kids will follow each other, no matter where they are in the world.”

Sergi has spent most of his life in the area and has seen many changes through it, noting that when he started playing at Loudoun Soccer Park, “It was just a bunch of trees, and when we were sitting at the top of Segra against Pittsburgh, it was weird to be with 10 to 15 of some of the closest family and friends that I have, and turn around and see Loudoun Soccer Park, and thinking that it feels like yesterday that I was playing there with some of them, and nothing’s really changed. But to now have the kids that are growing up playing for Loudoun, to see a professional team that is right across the street from (Loudoun Soccer Park) where they practice and train and have that extra motivation, and that’s cool to be a part of.”

Despite Sergi’s accomplishments at soccer and football, even winning the state’s 5A soccer title with the Spartans in 2014, getting to Xavier University (where he scored 29 goals in 67 games and was named to the All-Big East team in 2019) was not a given. “It was a month or two before signing day, and we (Bethesda Olney) were in Florida to play a showcase and get on some coaches' radars, and an assistant at Xavier came to watch me play in our last game and I kind of did my thing.”

Sergi played with New Mexico United in 2020 in his first pro season and got exposed to a professional environment quickly. “(Xavier) is one of the better college soccer teams in the country but it wasn’t anything close to the environment I saw in New Mexico. 15,000 fans every single game, I even saw it in glimpses in the preseason, jersey reveals, the team is the lifeblood of the state. You definitely felt like you’re a professional, and one of the biggest things was I learned how to be a pro; I was the youngest guy on the team and hanging out with guys who had wives and kids, and balancing that with what it means to play for something that’s bigger than the game is something I’ll never forget.”

Sergi was only able to appear in six games in his first pro season because he was diagnosed with vocal cord dysfunction (VCD), where the vocal cords close partially or completely. The condition is akin to being an untreated asthmatic. “It’s more common than you think, I was breathing at 1/16 of the capacity of a normal athlete, so I wasn’t getting a lot of air into my lungs, and I was getting to the point where I wasn’t dressing for games, and I (had) to sort my health out and fly all over the place to see specialists and doctors so I could get a chance to play soccer again. When I had this big breakthrough, I remember growing up and playing around here, I always knew I had something wrong like I was a step behind, and I dealt with it through college, and the altitude (in New Mexico) last year brought it to a whole new level. And now I’ve figured it out and it really taught me how to breathe and come into the preseason this year with Loudoun, I felt like a new player. I’ve never had the capacity of being able to push in the 80th minute of a game, and now it’s revolutionized my game and I’m grateful for it.”

Sergi’s maintained the connection to Loudoun Soccer, noting, “I love interacting with those kids as much as I can because I WAS them 10, 15 years ago, now they can see that there’s a way that if you put your head down, you work, but most importantly you enjoy the time with your teammates, and soak it all in.” He’s always managed to find his way back home, saying, “My parents are here, my aunt and uncle are down the street, and my little cousin who’s in preschool is putting on a Loudoun Soccer jersey. It’s hard for me to put into words from a football perspective, of course, it’s awesome to play for this team, but also to be able to enjoy it with some of the most special people on the planet for me; a lot of people did a lot for me to even get here, and to see how proud they are of me is awesome. My roots will always be around here whether I’m living here or not.”

Sergi’s roots in and around Loudoun helped him come home to do the thing he loves, saying “In college, I would come back and share with Loudoun Soccer in ‘19 and ‘20, so I knew Ryan (Martin), I really liked how he ran things around here, we’ve always had a pretty good relationship. I knew if I couldn’t get healthy I wasn’t going to play, so after getting healthy and looking for the best opportunity for me on and off the field, it was Loudoun and Ryan, he gave me a chance to get back on the field and it was a no-brainer for me to come back home and experience that.”

When Sergi did return, he chose to wear the number 24. “It’s just why it makes this place so special for me. One of my best friends in the entire world, her name was Madison and she was my neighbor growing up. She played softball at my high school, wore number 24, and was on third base. And right next to the third-base bleachers I would go watch her on days before our soccer games, which was a special relationship. And before we graduated, she passed away, tragically and suddenly. As soon as she was taken away, it opened my eyes that there’s something bigger to this game and just playing soccer. I want to represent something that’s bigger. In college I wore number 24, and coming back here it was a no-brainer for me; her mom and dad come and watch the games, It’s just a special number to me because it means so much more than soccer, it’s a constant reminder to me of how grateful I am to be able to play soccer for a living, to be able to wake up every day knowing that I get another day to get better, to make a difference in the community that I’m in, and make a difference in the lives around me. Madison was someone that was very special in my life, and I know she’s proud and I remember that Red Bulls game this year, scoring my first professional goal and I celebrate with the fans and go into the corner there, I knew she would have been front and center.”

Before he goes, Sergi wants to make one thing clear, “I know we talked about my personal life, but we’ve got a really special group of guys that I think are going to make noise here in the next few weeks. We were a bit unlucky with some of the results over the past few weeks, but we have more belief now more than ever that we’re going to make a run or do something special.”