Deacon Spotlight:  Chase Oliver & Isaiah Parente

Deacon Spotlight: Chase Oliver & Isaiah Parente

Men’s soccer is off to a strong start this season, as they beat Pittsburgh 3-2 in an exhibition match on Sept. 13. Freshman Chase Oliver scored two of those goals in his first taste of collegiate soccer. Oliver, from Kennesaw, GA, is one of Coach Bobby Muuss’s eight recruits for this 2020-21 season. Oliver is a midfielder who played at Atlanta’s Woodward Academy and was a part of Atlanta United FC’s Developmental Academy and Concorde Fire club teams. The loss of many seniors this past year has forced many of the younger players to step up into their new leadership roles. Isaiah Parente, junior midfielder from Medina, OH, is one of the two captains this season. Parente has been second on the team in assists these last two years and was named to the 2019 All-ACC third team. Old Gold & Black sports writer Cooper Sullivan sat down with Oliver and Parente to discuss this upcoming season, the pandemic and calls for racial equality.

Cooper Sullivan: First off, congrats on your win against Pittsburgh. Chase, you scored two goals including the game winner. How do you feel about the rest of the season after this strong debut?

Chase Oliver: It felt good getting those two goals. You know, as a freshman, I was extremely anxious for that first game. First time being in the jersey in Spry [Stadium], which as you know has a lot of history, it felt good to be able to bag two. But it’s just an exhibition, we’ve got some bigger games ahead, so I am just trying to stay level-headed, stay humble and keep working hard.

CS: What is the key to keeping up the momentum in the season opener against Louisville on Friday and then for the rest of the season?

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Isaiah Parente: I think it’s just working hard every day, we have a practice. You know, with COVID-19 going on, I think everyone doing their part and wearing masks, socially distancing, washing our hands and doing the little things will allow us to keep training and keep momentum moving forward. This past weekend the guys had great vibes and good banter. I think the training this week was really good, and I think that training hard is just going to keep moving the momentum forward.

CS: You mentioned COVID-19, how else has the pandemic affected how you guys have prepared this year, especially compared to past years?

IP: I think team functions, I think being close around each other. We try to get around each other as many times as we can, but now it’s only a certain amount of guys in the locker room, a certain amount of guys here and there. The amount of games may have changed but we can’t control that. We can only control each and every day.

CS: Isaiah, your first two years here, you made it to the Round of 16. Now leading this team as a captain is that the expectation for you guys, to go far and contend for a title?

IP: The expectation is we want to win. Each game we want to win. It takes a lot to get to the College Cup. I know everyone says “Oh, but the years past,” but I think each year is a new year and it’s exciting. If we take it one game at a time I have no doubt that everybody on the team wants those ambitions and knows that our goal at the end of the day is to raise trophies. So I think that it can be our expectation but one game at a time. Even one training at a time, we can’t look too far ahead.

CS: Is there anything you guys see that could possibly prevent you guys from reaching that position?

*Both shake their heads no immediately*

CS: Both the football and basketball teams have made statements about the Black Lives Matter movement. What has the soccer team been doing?

CO: We have actually been doing quite a bit. Over quarantine, while we were away, we had been having Zoom calls twice, sometimes three times a week, just to reconvene and talk about what’s going on because you can’t avoid it. We’ve done several things; if it’s the instagram posts, we made a video together of a statement that we all put together, just the players. The coaches read over it and supported us fully. We’ve implemented new masks and a new logo that says “Different But United” and that means a lot to us.

IP: Our team is very diverse and there is no tolerance for racism. We have to look to the left and right of each other and we have to treat everyone with respect and equality. Just like Chase said, we have our new patch “Different But United,” which we wear during the pregame and it’s on our game-jerseys as well. We have bands that say “Black Lives Matter.” I think there is no tolerance for racism, from the men’s soccer team to the community and everyone at Wake Forest.

CS: Chase, as a Black student here at Wake Forest, do you think the university, administration and students alike, is doing a good job addressing BLM and racial inequality? 

CO: Absolutely. Being a Black student at predominantly white university, the way the university is not shy to talk about it and is opening dialogue about this makes you feel a lot more comfortable. Being able to talk to your peers that are not the same demographic as you allows you to build different opinions and learn different things. That’s what I think this is all about, just learning from each other and trying to build as one.

Isaiah Parente, junior, goes in for a slide tackle in a game against University of Pittsburgh.

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