Tsoi Made the Most of Opportunities at PHS; Aims to Get All He Can From Sunshine Game
By Matt Manley
When Tim Tsoi first started his football career at Princeton High School, he did not have any specific plans for his future in the sport. He just wanted to do his best and make the most of the opportunity to play, even if it was for a struggling program.
Four years later, Tsoi can now say that he made the most of the opportunity, as his approach has paid off in an invitation to the Sunshine Classic at the College of New Jersey on July 1. The Cranbury resident looks forward to the event and sees it as a challenge as well as an opportunity.
"I'm thrilled to have been invited," said Tsoi, who will be playing defensive end in the game, his primary position in his two varsity seasons at PHS. "Practices are so much more intense and competitive than a normal practice, and the players are very talented."
In his four years with the program, Tsoi has played for two different coaches, Ray Strelecki and then Steve Everette, but still had to bear the brunt of losing for all four of his years. PHS went 3-17 over the last two seasons after not winning a game on the field the prior two campaigns.
However, Tsoi prefers to acknowledge the positives he has taken from the experience rather than dwell on the losses. "I came to the program not knowing much," said Tsoi. "I think once coach Everette came then I really started to improve and understand the game. I think all players would agree that we just never felt the passion for the game under coach Strelecki. We now have the right mentality with coach Everette and now that there's a lot of interest in the program, I think they will be fine."
Everette gives Tsoi credit for demonstrating the kind of unselfish attitude that has the program headed in the right direction.
"Tim was always a mature kid, he always thought about the team first," said Everette. "Last summer he went to the Princeton University academic program but he was still in the weightroom everyday. He sacrificed for the program. He could've played fullback but he knew we needed him more on the line."
In addition to his success on the gridiron, Tsoi also thrived as a sprinter and shot putter for the PHS track team in the spring. His combination of speed and explosiveness allowed him to excel in both sports, helping him become more complete as an athlete and as a person.
"Being a sprinter and a shot putter made me faster and more explosive," explained Tsoi. "So when football came around, I felt more prepared to train and perform. In football, the whole mentality is to never give up. Having that mentality pushed me harder in any practice or competition I had, and to always be number one."
While Sunshine Classic demonstrates Tsoi's abilities on the field, his accomplishments as a student are just as great. In his high school career, Tsoi earned a GPA of 3.8, good enough to have him considering Ivy League schools. Tsoi will instead take his talents to the University of Richmond, where he has been invited to walk on the football team.
"I didn't really have an interest in walking on to the football team until they invited me to," said Tsoi, who also served as the president of the student council this year. "All along in football, I've always thought to myself 'This won't work,' but I've always tried it and it has. So that gives me some confidence going into next year."
While Tsoi is excited about the competition of college football, he understands the adjustments he has to make, one of which includes a position change from defensive end to outside linebacker. Despite that shift, Tsoi believes he is up to the challenge.
"Coach Everette told me the game is going to get a lot faster," said Tsoi. "That's OK with me, because I think speed is one of my strengths. As far as the position change goes, I think I can adapt pretty quickly. I started five games this year at outside linebacker, so I have some experience going in."
As Tsoi prepares to take the field with some of the state's best football talent this Thursday, he sees the event as an opportunity to both improve and get a taste of what is ahead.
"Just being around players like this is going to help me," said Tsoi. "These are the best players around and I've learned a lot just by practicing with them, so when the game comes, I'll get a chance to play full speed."
Going forward, Tsoi is excited about the college experience, but said he has no set plans for the next four years at Richmond.
"I really don't know what I want to do yet" he explained. "I really like playing football, so I'm going to go down there and do my best in football and in school and see what happens."
Four years ago, Tsoi carried that same attitude into his high school career. If the past is any indication, expect great things from Tsoi at Richmond over the next four years.