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A family tradition of ‘football’

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Yuriy Fomin immigrated from Russia to Middlesex in the 1990s and was a soccer star for the Middlesex High Chargers. Today, his family lives in Middlesex and all his children play soccer either for the MHS JVs or Middlesex YMCA teams. Pictured above are, front from left, Kaitlyn and Nikolas; and back row, Elijah, Yuriy and Aleksander. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

by Larry Chowning

Middlesex High School soccer reached its pinnacle in the early to mid-1990s. Bill Murray was the head coach at the time and was assisted by Bob Walker—the two men who founded the MHS soccer program in the early 1970s.

By the 1993 and 1994 seasons, such names as Jason Dunlevy, Eric Smith, Michael Walker, John Chandler, Santiago Davila, Shawn Walden and others were part of one of the greatest eras in the history of MHS soccer.

During these years, Yuriy Fomin, a Russian immigrant who did not speak English, moved to Middlesex with his family and enrolled at MHS where he became a dominant force on the MHS soccer team.

For those who remember those days, Fomin made his mark as having the “hardest” foot of anyone in the area. “When Yuriy kicked the ball, I laid down on the ground to get out of the way,” said Eric Smith who was captain of the 1993 and 1994 Charger teams. “He hit me one time in the back so hard it knocked me to the ground. There was no one in our league who could kick as hard.”

Football Equals Soccer
“I couldn’t speak English but I could play football,” Fomin said at a recent MHS JV soccer match in which his two sons were playing. “Someone asked me if I could play football and I said yes. But when I went to the practice, they wanted to put pads on me.

“I learned quickly that football in America was not the same football as in my home country,” he said. “Soccer is what they called it here.”

When soccer season came around Fomin went to Coach Murray and asked if he could play. “I played the game in Russia so I understood the game as well as anyone. Soccer helped me a lot because it provided a common bond between me and everyone else. Soccer gave me purpose, a better understanding of Americans, and them a better understanding of me,” he said.

Today, Fomin is a building contractor but he vividly remembers the role soccer played in his orientation to a new environment thousands of miles from home.

“Like I said, soccer gave me a purpose and Coach Murray played a big part in helping me make a positive transition to this country,” Fomin said. “And so did everyone else on the MHS soccer team.”

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 06.12.2013

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