The senior midfielder led the highly-ranked Fords’ soccer team to the Inter-Ac title this fall, and was named Inter-Ac Most Valuable Player, as well as all-state, first team All-Delco and first team All-Main Line. The University of Chicago commit is also an excellent student who is a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. Off the pitch, Wada participates in the Peanut Butter and Jelly Club at Haverford School, which makes lunches for homeless shelters in Philadelphia.
Q: What did it mean to you to be named the Inter-Ac Most Valuable Player?
A: It meant a lot, especially knowing the great players who have received the honor in the past few years. There were multiple players who put together great games throughout the Inter-Ac season, so to be chosen as MVP this year is a huge honor. Obviously, I would not be even be in the running for this award if not for my teammates and coaches who pushed me all year and put me in a situation to play comfortable, fun soccer. I think that our whole team really embraced the idea of selflessness and we worked to help each other out whether it be in practice or in big games.
Q: What is your most vivid memory of this past season?
A: My most vivid memory of this past season came in our last game versus Episcopal Academy. We came into the game angry because we felt that we deserved a win the first time we played them, so we came out firing. We scored two goals in the first half and we had a few of our substitutes come on to end the half. One of our substitutes was senior Fran Radano, who had not gotten much playing time throughout the year, but nevertheless had worked himself into the role of a senior leader. Near the end of the first half, we worked the ball down the right sideline with interplay between Will Micheletti and Nick Pippis, and Fran gave his defender a body feint, slipped back post, and buried a cross into the net. I had little to no role in this play, but it will go down as my favorite memory on the Haverford School soccer team.
Q: Tell us a little about your start in competitive soccer – have you always played midfielder? What sparked your original interest in the midfielder position?
A: I started playing soccer competitively when I was 7 years old with the Lower Merion Sabertooth Rats, a club team that I am still a part of. I always played defense due to my size, but this fall at Haverford School we had two great junior center backs, Mitchell Hark and MJ Atkins, and those guys allowed me to step into a role in the midfield. I had a little trouble getting used to the positioning and work load that came with it; but thanks to Coach Keefe and Coach Poolman, I was able to put myself in situations to link our defense and our offense. Thought the year, we did only play with two center midfielders, so having Luke Macione slide into the middle with me helped to relieve a lot of the pressure and bridge the gap between our center backs and strikers. I am not sure if I will ever get the chance to move back into the midfield, so I am glad that I was given the chance to play a more attacking role in my last year of high school.
Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I think that the strongest aspects of my game come from my communication with my teammates (as well as referees) and my field awareness. I also think that my calmness under pressure is one of my greatest strengths. I think that playing midfield this year helped me to work on my positioning and movement on and off the ball. I would say that the part of my game that I am most working on is defending players who are faster or more agile than I am.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: My teammates often get mad at me because I have a certain nonchalance and easy-going attitude on game days. I used to listen to angry music and try to hype myself up on mornings before games, but I realized that I play better when I calm myself down and let go of any stress. I do not have one predetermined pregame meal, and I have been known to take naps on the sideline before warmups. Throughout my time at Haverford, I have found that I play better and looser when I am having fun and when I’m cracking jokes with my teammates or referees. The one ritual that I have is always eating fast-food the night before a game, but none of my coaches know that.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: I would say that I have three major soccer mentors. First, I have my Dad, who I have always competed with and who pushed me to be my best. I vividly remember him buying a whiteboard with a soccer field drawn on it when I was 6 years old in order to point out where I should be throughout the game. After my Dad, it was my teammates who taught me to play calm and trust in the people around me to make plays, win balls, and score goals. Finally, it was my coaches at Haverford who put me into a leadership role and pushed me to make the players around me the best that they could be.
Q: You wore uniform jersey No. 39 for Haverford this fall. Why did you pick this number – was there a particular reason?
A: I actually wear No. 13 on my club team, but there was one student a year above me who would take it every year at Haverford, so I decided to take random numbers like 25, 37, and 39, which I took sophomore, junior, and senior years, respectively. By this year, it kind of became a thing that my teammates, and other teams, would point at and laugh about, as it is usually freshman and sophomores who get stuck with larger less desirable numbers.
Fun facts – Griffin Wada
Favorite book: The Great Gatsby.
Favorite TV show: Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Favorite movie: Inglourious Basterds.
Favorite athlete: Lionel Messi.
Favorite team: USC Trojans football.
Favorite pre-game meal: McDonalds sausage and egg McGriddle.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)