I try to start these pieces by getting away from soccer, trying to peek underneath the inner workings of the players, what is their life away from Soccer Park, away from Preki and the stress of pushing your body in training every day. Christian wants no part of that. “I love to talk about soccer, love it.”
And thus it begins, with him talking about growing up in Henderson Nevada, just 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip with Matt Polster. “We pushed each other all the way.” states Christian. “Henderson isn’t a soccer hotbed, doesn’t have the youth traditions as other US Cities, but Matt and I pushed each other. Fed off each other. That’s how I ended up in Edwardsville. SIUE recruited us both at a tournament in Vegas, Kevin Kalish scouted us. Matt ended up going there. I didn’t know too much about college soccer in general and ended up going to University of Denver. However I was asking Matt how SIUE was and he told me straight up I need to be there, I’ll love it. It was a great decision. SIUE plays a great brand of football, my kind of football, Preki’s type of football, which is why I ended up back here. It all comes full circle.”
You can tell when he speaks of his family the Volesky’s are close. He glows when he speaks of his niece and god daughter. My brother is in the Air Force, just finished a stint at Lakenheath in the UK. His sister and mom live in New Jersey. All pretty spread out with his Dad based in Colorado working for Hewlett Packard.
After college in Edwardsville, Christian signed with Rochester Rhinos and was with them on their march to the 2015 USL title. “It just all worked out. It took me awhile to buy into Bob Lilley’s system, we butted heads a fair amount, but it absolutely worked. He keeps his players tethered to his system and probably took me 18 months to realize it was all for the best. We had a great team, every single player on that roster has gone on to bigger and better. I can honestly say if that Rhino’s team were in MLS, we’d be comfortably midtable.”
Nobody could score against you I quipped: “Exactly! I did more defending as a forward than most center backs in the league. That’s Bob though; once the players realized the success it brought us we were all into being a team for the team. It wasn’t until about halfway through the season that I totally surrendered myself to Lilley’s way of thinking and doing things, but it made me a better person and a better player.”
I ask what he thinks of this team now and if he is looking forward to facing Rochester this weekend [or supposed to face Rochester this weekend]: “Bob Lilley will be waiting for us. Everyone thinks Preki is tough on players, but ask Adam Grinwis and Tony Walls and they’ll tell you that not many coaches in America compare to Bob. He’ll be wanting to put one over on us just as much as I am ready to play them. I think we’re a good team ourselves. Not quite got it together yet I don’t think. As much as the wins at home so far have been fun for the fans…….” I stop him immediately and tell him that on the contrary, the fans wouldn’t mind a nice easy 2 nil win without any stress at which he just grins. “Yeah, even a 1-0 win wouldn’t be so bad. I thought we’d get that against Charlotte which is why that result was so disappointing. A lot of guys are coming back though we’ll find our form.”
“Sports, always.” That was his exact quote when I asked about his life away from the team. It’s always been football and even playing FIFA in his downtime: “I support Arsenal, Viera, Henry, Bergkamp were the team I loved. How can you not love a team that can go a season unbeaten? I fish. I grew up with my Dad taking me fishing to the Dakota’s as a kid, which is where he is originally from. I stopped it for awhile but living in Rochester with this massive lake and endless rivers in upstate New York I really got into it again. The lure of landing a 20 pound salmon is still a thrill.”