Matt Rabadi wouldn’t call it pestering, out of respect, but what he described was, well… motherly persistence.
Throughout his spring semester at college, there would be periodic reminders from Terri Rabadi, some of which were delivered in an exasperated tone.
“‘Oh, my God, come on!’” Matt said, impersonating his mom. “‘You still haven’t gotten in touch with them? Stop putting it off!’”
Plenty of teenagers and young adults can relate to that effective style of nagging, err, coaxing.
But that “it” was the potential opportunity to become soccer teammates for the first time with his younger brother.
Zach Rabadi had been contacted last December by a recruiter for the Kingston Stockade, a semi-professional soccer club based in Ulster County, that was interested in the former John Jay-East Fishkill star.
He tried out and impressed the coaches there during winter practice sessions. Naturally, that was a topic of conversation with Matt, who had just completed his junior season with the Sage College men’s soccer team.
“I told him, ‘There won’t be many chances like this, so we gotta do this,’” 18-year-old Zach said. “But he was a little iffy at first.”
After enough badger--, uhh, persuading, though, Matt auditioned in March and joined the team earlier this month at the conclusion of his semester, giving the Stockade two siblings in the midfield.
The Hopewell Junction brothers both shined at John Jay, leading the perennial title contender, but their scholastic careers didn’t overlap, despite being only being apart by three school years.
“It’s something we had always talked about, how awesome it would be if we were ever teammates, but not knowing how it would happen,” Matt, 20, said. “But this feels right. We’ve been playing together in the backyard since we were little and now, to have this as adults, it’s exciting.”
They had their first game together on May 14, traveling upstate and helping the Stockade play to a 1-all draw with Syracuse FC.
Adding to the joy of taking the field with his best friend, Zach said, was the atmosphere and pageantry surrounding the game, which wasn’t quite expected.
A gaggle of Stockade fans made the three-hour drive to western New York, including that cheering section known as the Dutch Guard, whose beating drums soundtracked the match.
“Walking onto the field with him was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had in soccer,” Zach said. “Although we weren’t on the same teams growing up, we always trained together, so the chemistry is there, and I know we’ll connect well.”
Matt, in high school and college, has been an instinctive and versatile player who excelled defensively and in transition.
The hesitancy in trying out for the team, he said, stemmed from a concern about his time being limited and as he readies for the final year of college and a career afterward. In the end, though, this wasn’t an opportunity he could pass up.
“I didn’t know if this would take away from my focus,” the physical education major said. “But once I got into it, I fell even more in love with soccer and this experience. Mom was right.”
Matt plans to transfer this fall to Manhattanville College in Purchase and complete his degree there, then enter graduate school.
Zach, an attacking midfielder known for his footwork and offensive prowess, was the Journal’s Boys Soccer Player of the Year last fall. The senior committed to play at Marist College, to which he’ll sign in a ceremony at John Jay on Monday.
He was drawn to the school itself, he said, and the chance to play collegiately 15 miles from home, with some of his relatives and friends in attendance, appealed to him.
For the brothers, there is a similar allure in playing for the Stockade, whose home is Dietz Stadium, about a 45-minute drive from Hopewell Junction.
The Stockade have seven regular-season games remaining and the season could extend to late July, should there be a deep playoff run. That would leave the Rabadis little time before they head to college.
Zach said that among the people who encouraged him to play this summer was Rob Esposito, an assistant coach on the Marist men’s soccer team who also is head coach of the Stockade 23-and-under team.
Of course, there is a risk of injury before his first collegiate season, and that’s understood.
“I’d planned to train all summer to get ready for the fall anyway,” he said. “Playing with and against guys already at the college level is great preparation for me.”
Some of that prep includes weight gain and strength training. He wants to add about 10 pounds before autumn as he readies to “compete against grown men,” he said. And he has received some advice about life as a student-athlete from a good source.
“Coming in for fall sports is tough because soccer starts before school does,” Matt said. “There’ll be a lot of late nights and early mornings, even more so at the Division I level. Time management and understanding your priorities is key.”
That, and don't make your mom have to tell you something more than once.
Stephen Haynes: email@example.com; 845-437-4826; Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Matt and Zach Rabadi are first-time soccer teammates with the Stockade