Extremely athletic, hard working and able to battle through the physical knocks one inevitably deals with as a collegiate soccer player, UC San Diego senior Brandon Yee started all 35 games in the midfield for the Tritons as a freshman and sophomore. He was a starter for the first nine games of 2009 before being sidelined with a season-ending knee injury. "Brandon's played a lot of minutes for us, even though he's probably a little out of position on the left side," says Head Coach Jon Pascale of the Orinda, CA native. "He's got good ball skills and makes a lot of dynamic runs -- and he's just a great kid." The 21-year-old management science major took time recently to reflect on his sport and his career at UCSD.
Q: After a rough start, the UC San Diego Men's Soccer team is undefeated in its last six games. What has been the difference and was there a specific turning point?
I think we had a slow start because it took us a little while to gel as a team. Once we got a solid win under our belt, we've gained a lot of confidence and this has helped us produce more cohesive play on the field.
Q: When you weren't getting the results early, what was the coaching staff's message to the team?
YEE: The coaching staff emphasized that the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and in order for us to succeed this season we would just have to continue to get better each and every week for us to get the results we were looking for.
Q: As a player in a team sport, what do you try to do individually to help when things aren't going well for the team?
YEE: When things aren't going well, I try and be the sparkplug for the team. What I mean by that is that I try and lift the team's morale with a lot of energy and making plays to change the momentum of the game, whether that be a big tackle or taking a chance at goal.
Q: What are some of the things you like the most about playing soccer?
YEE: This is such a difficult question to answer because soccer is so meaningful to me both on and off the field. The difficulties of soccer such as injuries, not being selected to be on a team and so forth have helped me grow as an individual. I think I'm a much stronger individual from my experiences of learning to persevere during difficult times. I also love soccer but also almost every sport because of the competition. Lastly, the thing I love most about soccer is the development of the friendships that I've created over the years.
Q: Talk about how you got started playing and what kept you involved with the game for so long.
YEE: I don't know why but I've always had an affinity for playing all sports. My mom tells me I was throwing a tennis ball for fun before I could even walk! I started out playing soccer like everyone else, playing in a recreation league for boys and girls and then moved on to a competitive team at around eight years old or so. I've played pretty much every sport there is, but it wasn't until my junior year in high school where I focused my energy primarily on soccer.
Q: You've battled through a number of injuries during your career at UCSD. How difficult has that been and is the physicality a part of the sport that most people don't understand?
YEE: Battling through injuries has been rather tough to deal with. When I had to sit out the rest of the season my junior year it was difficult to watch and know that you couldn't be out on the field to help your team out. For me, that was probably the most difficult time I've had playing soccer.
I think the physicality of the game is hard to understand for most people because, quite frankly, it is too hard to see from far away. There is a lot of battling that goes on, such as people stepping on your feet, elbows to the stomach and so forth, that people just don't see from for away.
Q: What's one thing in soccer that you've never done that you'd like to do?
YEE: I've never scored on a bicycle kick in a game. I love doing it in practice but I wish I could do it in a game sometime.
Q: On this year's Triton squad, which player is the toughest, which player has the best ball skills and which player has the hardest shot?
YEE: This is a real tough question because I think everyone on our team can display all of these qualities. But if I had to pick the toughest, I would have to pick Jared Kukura. He may not be the brightest individual but he sure has guts. He plays through nagging injuries, never complains and always throws his body into tackles. The player with the best ball skills would have to be Alex Portela. Our team plays this game called the "trash can game," where you need to have the ability to juggle with the best touches and he seems to win almost all the time. Lastly I think Shane Micheil has the hardest shot. He works really hard in the gym, maybe that's one of the contributing factors to his hard shot.
Q: What do you consider your best skill and which is the one you'd most like to be better at?
YEE: I think my best skill is my defending. If I had to be better at anything, I hope to gain a better killer instinct in front of goal. I want to score more goals.
Q: If you could change one thing about soccer, what would it be?
YEE: If I could change one thing about soccer it would be to allow for more physicality in the game. I wish referees wouldn't call so many fouls and would just let the game continue.
Q: You're a management science major at Sixth College. What do you plan to do after finishing up at UCSD? What are your career aspirations?
YEE: I plan on graduating in June. I've been actively engaged in a few internships in the past few months in the financial industry. Maybe I'll be an investment banker? Who knows? I'm playing it by ear for now.
Q: You listed watching movies as one of the things you do away from the field? What are a couple of your all-time favorites? What are some good ones you've seen recently?
YEE: My all time favorite would have to be Zoolander. I don't know why I like that movie so much, but I do. Maybe deep down inside I wouldn't mind becoming a male model. I also really like Robert De Niro as an actor. So any movie with him, I probably like. Unfortunately, I haven't seen anything that good recently.
Q: If there were a movie made about Brandon Yee, what actor would get the lead role?
YEE: I'd say Brad Pitt. I think we have a very similar persona.
Q: Your team is starting to head into the home stretch of the 2010 regular season. What do you think it is capable of before your career is completed?
YEE: I hope we can still make the playoffs. We have some catching up to do but if we have the right mentality and stay undefeated, I like our odds of making it.
Previous Q & A Articles
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009