Senior Spotlight - Panayoti Saras

Panayoti Saras settles a pass in the midfield.
Panayoti Saras settles a pass in the midfield.

Halzeton, Pa. - Today's featured senior is Panayoti Saras from White Haven, Pa. "Yoti" joined the men's soccer program for the 2019 season as a junior and worked his way into the line up with a versatile skill set, playing in 12 games as defensive player, midfielder and forward. Saras continued to work on his game and went on to make 13 straight starts in his senior season, adding one assist in Hazleton's 2-2 stalemate with Penn State Greater Allegheny.

Just as Yoti picked up his game on the pitch, Yoti credits athletics for a resurgence in the classroom. During his two year stint in a Nittany Lion uniform, Saras made the Dean's List in four straight semesters, adding two PSUAC Academic All-Conference Awards and a first place award in the 2020 Research Fair. With graduation just over the horizon, Yoti plans to take his degree in Engineering/Alternative Energy and Power Generation and pursue a career in the Orlando, Fl. area. Saras eventually plans to earn a Master's Degree in Business with a goal of managing his own tech company in the future.

We caught up with Yoti earlier in the week for a quick Q & A:

What advice do you have for your younger teammates or recruits that are participating in athletics at Penn State Hazleton?

For soccer in particular, you need to develop chemistry with your teammates as early as possible. It's not an individual sport so it's important to build up trust and rapport so you can anticipate the moves and thoughts of your teammates. Make sure you have fun while you're doing it!

What impact did athletics have on your experience as a college student?

My grades started to improve because it was a way to relieve stress and it gave a concise schedule. I made a lot of good friends and made some great contacts from it. The most fun I had in college was playing soccer so I consider it a great and very rewarding experience.

What is the best class you took while attending Penn State Hazleton?

Thermodynamics 2 with Dr. William Yourey. It was one of my first topic specific engineering courses and I thought it was cool to learn about all the different modes of heat transfer.

What has been your favorite memory while participating in men's soccer?

Getting ready for each game and goofing around in the locker room. Basically, it was our pre-game rituals. They helped get the nerves out of the way before we hit the field.

What is your favorite memory outside of athletics at Penn State?

We had a great time hosting our THON family in the pool earlier in the year. It was sort of a luau and fun to hang out with the kids and our friends. We played lots of games and dressed funny so it was a really great bonding experience.

What are you up to now during the quarantine?

Trying to get through school. I have four classes and a lab this semester, plus one class at Luzerne County Community College. Trying to stay motivated. I'm always reaching out to various people to stay in contact and stay social so I don't go insane.

What shows are you currently binge watching? Which one is the best?

Re-watching Parks and Rec and I just started the Last Kingdom. I'm also re-watching Star Trek TNG. Big Picard fan. Patrick Stewart is the man.

What role will athletics play in your life going forward?

Well, I fully intend on continuing to club soccer or play in an adult league wherever I wind up working. But in the big picture, the discipline you need to play the game will always play a big role in my life. It taught me to be the best teammate I can be as well as perseverance, patience and trust. You need to be able to work on teams effectively and that was a skill I picked up from soccer.

Are there teammates you would like to thank for having a positive impact on your playing career?

I definitely want to thank Steve Principce. He was a good influence in a lot of ways with both soccer and engineering. Very supportive even after he left school.