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His soccer dreams now behind him, Michael Marcantognini returns home
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Just fifteen years old, Michael Marcantognini would leave Sudbury to follow his soccer dreams.

The journey of the ensuing decade would feature stops at a prestigious Ontario private school, followed by the uniqueness that is an NCAA Division I soccer scholarship for any teen north of Barrie and finally an academic bookend that would take the always gracious young man to the west coast of the United States, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, to be specific.

As Marcantognini makes his return to Sudbury, now a lawyer who passed the bar exam in both California and Ontario, he took time to reflect on a soccer career filled with wonderful memories and few, if any regrets.

Already identified on a provincial scale as he begins his high-school studies at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School, the now 27 year-old would spend the next three years at St Andrew's College in Aurora.

"It was one of the best experiences if not the best experience of my life," stated Marcantognini. "We had an unbelievable coach in David Manning - and education-wise, it was first class."

Throw in the ability to train regularly with his GTA brethren, gathered together as part of the Toronto FC program and it was clear that the northern product who spent a summer (2009) with the Panhellenic Spitfire before signing on with the Mississauga Falcons for OYSL play the next year was laying the foundation for an opportunity south of the border that is far more common for Sudbury female talent than it is with the boys.

"I was trying to keep it closer to home," said Marcantognini, reminiscing on his decision to accept an offer from the Michigan State Spartans.

And while many are those who make their way back to Canada well before their final graduation date in the States, the gifted ball striker who has now immersed himself in the world of construction law, corporate and commercial law as well as civil litigation thrived in the setting that can present more than a few challenges for those who are unaware of just how competitive university sport in the United States of America can tend to be.

"I played all four years - freshman to senior," said Marcantognini. "We made it to two Elite Eights, so pretty deep into the NCAA tournament. It was a great group of guys, great coaches - and there were so many wonderful experiences outside of soccer during my time on the team."

As many have noted before, it might well be the life skills garnered through top-end athletic involvement that creates the greatest takeaway, building that skill-set, off the field, that leaves young adults far more prepared to tackle the world ahead.

"It's the perseverance, the discipline; our 6:00 a.m. workouts in the spring, running on the track when you don't even want to get out of bed," said Marcantognini. "It gave me a great platform once I started to think about what I wanted to do next as I could see my time (in soccer) coming to an end."

Truth be told, it's never easy for those of this ilk to step away from a game to which they have devoted an entire lifetime of sweat and effort, always seeking to crest that next mountain. Marcantognini, it appears, handled it far better than most.

"I didn't want to prolong the soccer only to then jump back into school two or three years later," he explained. "I had an interest in law and my legal career and wanted to jump into it right away - so I put a hard stop on soccer."

"As soon as I stopped playing, that first year of law school, I had an itch still to play some soccer once in a while, but not as much as I thought," offered the young many who selected the fledgling program at Santa Clara University in California for the next step of his journey.

"Once I got fully immersed into the law school experience, I just forgot about it. You're so busy with your studies. But it was nice to have been able to have that self-discussion and be internally at peace with the next step of my life."

With California boasting the same type of common law jurisdiction as Canada does, the appeal to a site that checked off a few different boxes caught the attention of the out-of-country post graduate student.

"I liked the idea of receiving a different perspective but still being able to have a pretty easy transition to come back to Ontario," said Marcantognini. "I was tough being so far away but I left at such a young age, I was okay with being on my own."

All with an eye towards making his way back.

"When I started law school, I had that discussion with my family," he said. "The intent was to come back home."

And now that he is back, Michael Marcantognini is anxious to reconnect with old friends and former teammates, perhaps even sharing a story or two of the interesting road he has travelled since the age of fifteen.

Anyone wishing to reach out to Michael can search his name by visiting the Law Society of Ontario website: under the heading of Public Resources, select "Finding a Lawyer" from the drop down menu.

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