The final National Letter of Intent Signing Day for the 2018-19 school year on April 17, produced another North Royalton student athlete who is taking his game to the next level.
Before family and friends in the North Royalton High School gym, boys’ soccer player A.J. Lozinak signed his letter to attend and play soccer at Ashland University.
A.J. told me that he was looking for two items in particular when selecting a college. “I was looking for a school that had men’s soccer and also had my major, which is exercise science. It came down to three schools, which were Ashland, Mount Union and Defiance. I went for a visit to Ashland. I liked the campus. I know the coaches. I feel like they had the highest level of play for me.”
While many High School athletes think that offers from colleges and universities will flood their mailboxes, that isn’t always the case. A.J. is one of those athletes who had to wait to get that first letter.
“Six months ago, I didn’t think I was going to Ashland. I couldn’t get ahold of any of their coaches. That’s when I started looking at Mount Union and Defiance. He (The Ashland Coach) saw my games. I took a visit to the Ashland campus. Then he saw some of my club games. Finally, it all worked out.”
A.J. graduates from North Royalton as a conference champion, a title that he’s very proud of. “Our goals coming into the season were to be Suburban League Champions and reach at least the District finals in the State Tournament. We did both.”
North Royalton Soccer Coach, Joe Valeriano, said that it was ‘hard work’ that got AJ his scholarship. “He was one of our hardest workers in the program, both on and off the field. He was the first one in the weight room, the first one to practice and the last one to leave. He gave us everything he had every single day. He had some bumps and bruises during his senior year, but that didn’t stop him.”
Valeriano said the Bears’ coaching staff was able to identify those traits in A.J. as early as the eighth grade. “You never know when you see somebody that young. But you saw the determination, he loved playing the game and his worth ethic continued to build him up. A.J. was a leader for us in his senior year. He was Captain for us in his senior year. He gave everything he could to our program.”
A.J. thanked his Mom and Dad for instilling that ‘hard work ethic’ in him. He said hard work has been his motto for most of his young life. “I had problems with reading when I was younger which made school difficult. I was able to overcome that through hard work. Now, it’s just the way that I deal with everything.”
A.J. Lozinak hopes to play center-back for the Ashland University men’s soccer team next season.
Contributing Writer