Off the Pitch with Ryan Zinkhan
Ryan Zinkhan is just a few weeks into his first season with the Virginia soccer team, but he has had to quickly get acclimated to the college game. The Fredericksburg, Va., native was the 2010 Gatorade Virginia State Player of the Year and has been thrown right into the mix here at UVa. While he is multi-faceted on the field and can play multiple positions, he also has a wide array of interests away from the game. We learn all about Zinkhan in the latest Off the Pitch on VirginiaSports.com.
What attracted you to come here to the University of Virginia?
Zinkhan: Really the main thing was the facilities. I’ve seen a lot of the colleges and universities, and nothing really beats UVa, with the soccer facilities and athletics facilities and obviously George Gelnovatch and the coaching staff are top notch. I thought it was a really professional environment.
You’re interested in pursing political science as a major. Do you have any idea what you might want to do with that?
Zinkhan: I really would like to get into the FBI, but I also know that is extremely competitive. Right now I really want to do poly sci because it is a broad field and it can open a lot of doors for jobs in the future.
Tell us about your background growing up.
Zinkhan: I actually was a late bloomer. I was a three-sport athlete. My main sport growing up was actually hockey. I was on the travel team for hockey. They had one rink in Fredricksburg, it was called Ice Park, and that unfortunately closed down and I didn’t want to travel to Richmond everyday, so I started getting serious about soccer when I was a sophomore in high school. I played football my freshman year of high school and basketball, but I figured soccer was what I was the best at and what I enjoyed the most.
What positions did you play?
Zinkhan: I was a running back in football and actually got a 1,000-yard season on the JV team. I actually got a concussion from Jake Johnson, who now plays linebacker at Virginia Tech. So I figured maybe a football career isn’t for me. I was a point guard on the basketball team too and then I played offense on the hockey team.
Talk about the differences in sports compared to soccer.
Zinkhan: It really helped me out playing football and hockey for soccer. I’m used to the physical side of things now, which is especially important playing in the ACC. Playing football and hockey really helped me out in that aspect.
Talk about your first ACC experience down at Duke last weekend.
Zinkhan: And it was on national television too – talk about getting thrown into the deep end. It was awesome. It was so cool. I’ve always dreamed about playing on TV and being a professional soccer player, and that was pretty close. It was a special experience for me and for us to get the win. All the guys helped me out a lot.
What is one thing that you did not expect about ACC play that you saw in your first game?
Zinkhan: A lot of chippiness that goes on behind the scenes that doesn’t get shown on TV or that you only experience if you’re on the field, like elbows being thrown and guys getting stepped on. It’s a lot of chippiness that you have to get used to and also give back a little.
What is something random about you that is unique?
Zinkhan: I was in the chorus in high school. I really did it just for an easy credit back in high school, then I started to actually enjoy it the more and more I did it, so I tried out for one of the top choirs in our school and I made it. We traveled and went to Busch Gardens and did competitions. One time I was in this thing called the Magical Feast. I had to wear to tights and had a solo, so that was pretty nerve-wracking. But it was cool. You get to meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet. It’s cool to meet a broader range of people.
Was there dancing involved?
Zinkhan: There was a little bit. When we did Night on Broadway there was a little dancing and we had to do a little hand jive.
Zinkhan: I was a bass, but then they moved me to baritone because I’ve got a pretty good range.
Pet Growing Up: cat named Biggie
Song on your iPod: Jolene by Ray LaMontagne
Pro Sports Team: Liverpool
Sport (outside of soccer): Tennis
TV Show: Jersey Shore
Place to Travel: San Diego
Class: I’m in a Greek art class right now and we’re learning about the archaeology of ancient Greece. It’s really been pretty cool.