Adam Mena netted a free kick in the 37th minute.

On The Clock With Adam Mena

Oct. 13, 2011

Senior midfielder Adam Mena been an impressive offensive force for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s soccer team this season. The Holland, Mich., native leads the Irish in points scored with ten and assists with four. His three goals are second best on the team. Mena’s creativity and veteran leadership have been critical assets for the Irish as they have risen up the rankings to No. 11 in the country. Mena recently sat down with Tom McGuire of to tell us more about himself and his time at Notre Dame.

You’ve really come on strong lately as a goal scorer and attacker. How have you taken on this more attacking, creative role?
Well, I was really given that role by Coach Clark. He gave me the freedom to say `go for it’ and be aggressive. The coaches like my attacking and technical skills, and have given me the green light to use them.

What is your dream job?
My dream is to play professional soccer. I think that’s every college soccer player’s dream.

If you could trade places with your coach for a day, what would you do?
I’d do the exact same things he does. As we’ve seen, he puts things together very well, and that helps us play well. I would incorporate some more shooting drills though; those are always fun, and everyone always has a good time.

What is your major and why did you choose it?
Psychology. I’ve always been interested in psychology. I also like that it’s a broader perspective. In case soccer didn’t work out, I can go into business, go to grad school, really do a variety of things.

What’s the hardest part of being a student-athlete at Notre Dame?
I think the hardest part is definitely the time management. You have to figure out exactly when to get your work done. It’s hard to fit in the amount of work you have with your tight schedule.

What is your favorite memory with your teammates?
My favorite memory with my teammates is getting to go paint-balling with them. That was really cool.

What are your goals for this season – both personally and for the team?
Personally, I just want to be a big factor in our team, help them win games. Of course I want to play professionally and things like that, but it’s more me contributing a lot to my team on the path to winning a national championship. That’s the ultimate goal.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
I’d probably go to a tropical island somewhere — maybe somewhere like Fiji — and just be a beach bum for a while.

Who was your role model growing up? Why?
My father was my role model. He was a very disciplined, hardworking person. He grew up poor, and didn’t have many privileges as a child. He had to work for everything he got in life. He instilled a lot of that desire, discipline into me. That really helps me appreciate the little things in life.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
I think I’d have dinner with Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player in the world. Either him or Nelson Mandela.

What team do you play with in FIFA 2012?
I usually play with either Real Madrid or Barcelona — I know it’s a weird mix. Barcelona is my favorite team, but so many people play with them I like to play with Madrid sometimes to mix it up.

What’s the funniest moment you’ve had with your teammates?
One time, I was in front of Notre Dame Stadium with some of my teammates, in front of a bunch of girls. I tried to do a trick on my bike, and ate it in front of everyone.

What is your favorite sport, other than soccer, to watch? What about to play?
I really love college football. As far as other sports to play, I’m probably the best at track. I did it in high school, but it was rough balancing soccer, school, and everything else and I gave it up.

What does being a part of the Fighting Irish program mean to you?
It means a lot to me because of the standards they have for athletes and students. There are high expectations and a brotherhood type culture. That allows everyone to get along, work together, and be creative. That makes great things happen, both in sports and in the community.

What would you like to be remembered for after leaving Notre Dame?
I’d like to be remembered for soccer, but if that doesn’t work out I’d like to be remembered as a very personable person, someone who could be friends with anyone.

Who is your favorite professional athlete? Why?
I really like Messi, but I also like Muhammad Ali. I like what Ali stood for. He was a really hardworking person who didn’t let anyone put him down. He was a strong hearted, strong-willed person who followed what he believed in.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I once tried to stand on my bike seat while my bike was moving. I saw someone do it on YouTube, and thought I might be able to pull it off. It didn’t work, at all.

You were the team’s Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student Athlete award winner in 2010. How do you balance being an athlete and a student, and just having a life?
That’s the most difficult thing about being here, time management. But being a disciplined and hard-working person, and learning those virtues from a young age got me through it. I don’t like settling for mediocrity. I want to do the best at everything I do. It’s partially never being content–I always want to get better. It also helps that my coaches wouldn’t be happy if I can’t keep my grades up!

North or South Dining Hall? Why?
I definitely like South. It’s got a wider variety of options, and plus I just like that it’s bigger.

What was the biggest thing that attracted you here to Notre Dame?
I was really attracted by the atmosphere and the people. Everyone was very friendly, and the coaches were interested in helping to develop me as a person and as a soccer player. It’s a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, but at the same time it can be very upbeat and exciting. I also like the small town atmosphere, and how you can meet a lot of new people.

— ND —