Strikowski overcoming obstacles led to success on the field

Clifton Jones

Sacramento State men’s soccer player Almog Strikowski played in his last game Saturday against UC Davis which marked the end of a five-year career with the Hornets.

Strikowski is the lone member left from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference championship teams of 2009 and 2010.

“We will miss Almog on the soccer field in a lot of aspects because everyone on the team looks up to him. He has been given the nickname of ‘dad’,” head coach Mike Linenberger said.

Strikowski was part of a Jewish family in a small community in southern California with parents who immigrated from Israel. His father, Arik, came here in 1980 while his mother Shoshi emigrated 10 years later. Almog Strikowski is a first generation American.

When he was four, Almog Strikowski started playing  soccer with his father. His father coached Almog Strikowski in a recreational league soccer for the American Youth Soccer Organization teams.

Soccer was a family affair for the Strikowski’s as Almog and his brother Adam grew up around the sport.  

“We would always be in the backyard after practice or games just having a fun brotherly competition with each other,” Almog Strikowski said.

It was not easy for Almog Strikowski growing up playing the center defensive midfielder position. He was overweight for a position that requires a player to be moving up and down the field for the entirety of a game.  

“One of the coaches came up to me and said that my son had to lose at least 20 pounds to be a viable soccer player in the future,” Arik Strikowski said. “He lost the weight and once he did, he greatly improved on the soccer field.”

Cobi Goren, who coached Almog Strikowski at the Maccabi Club of Los Angeles, was impressed from the beginning.

“Almog (Strikowski) was not just a great soccer player but a great human being to be around,” Goren said.

Linenberger said he first saw Almog Strikowski at Sac State’s individual drill camps in 2009 and it was a day Linenberger would not forget because of how Almog Strikowski faced adversity.    

“It was raining and windy when we held the camp at Hornet Field,” Linenberger said. “Almog (Strikowski) was really never affected by the weather like everyone else.”

Before Almog Strikowski was a Hornet, he was being recruited by Cal State Northridge, Cal State Los Angeles, Chico State and San Jose State. When the senior completed his recruiting trip at Sac State, he was really blown away by how friendly some of the players were.

“Bryan Oliver really stood out to me on my recruiting trip,” Almog Strikowski said. “He was really laid back and he was fun to be around.”

Oliver was a senior on last year’s team and is now serving as a volunteer assistant goalie coach for the Sac State women’s soccer team.

Almog Strikowski finished his Hornet career with four goals and four assists in 62 games.

His passion for the game is a quality Linenberger really admired. 

“He is a player that a coach will appreciate over time because of his willingness to put in the work everyday,” Linenberger said.

When Almog Strikowski graduates in the spring of 2014, he will be the first in his family to do so.