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Photo courtesy of Notre Dame
Midfielder Adam Mena is a fifth-year senior at Notre Dame.

Irish midfielder learns to ‘hurry slowly’ on field

– Notre Dame midfielder Adam Mena didn’t know what it meant the first time soccer coach Bobby Clark told him to “festina lente.”

Mena’s confusion wasn’t just over his coach talking to him in Latin. It was because the phrase translates to “hurry slowly.”

“At first, I had no idea what he was talking about,” said Mena, whose talents will be on display when Notre Dame plays the Mexican professional team Chivas of Guadalajara at 7 p.m. Thursday as part of the Shindigz National Soccer Festival at Hefner Fields.

“ ‘Hurry slowly,’ I was like wait a second, that doesn’t make sense.”

Mena still struggles to explain exactly what Clark means when he tells players to “hurry slowly,” but the fifth-year senior has bought into the spirit of the phrase.

“The way (Clark) describes it is you want to do things quickly but smartly,” Mena said. “It is hard to explain. I can’t explain it nearly as well as he does. It is just a sense of doing things smartly.”

Mena has done a lot of things the smart way.

He earned his degree in psychology from the College of Arts and Letters and is currently an unclassified graduate student as he decides whether he wants to earn a master’s degree in teaching or psychology.

Mena has the intellect to pursue any kind of postgraduate degree he wants. He received the team’s Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award the last two years, is a two-time NSCAA all-region scholar, a three-time Big East Academic All-Star selection and earned the Big East Institutional Scholar-Athlete Award last year.

Mena has also contributed on the field after not playing as a freshman.

The 5-foot-1, 145-pound Holland, Mich., native has played in 54 games, making 11 starts. He has six goals and five assists and can play any midfield position or move up top to forward.

He was second in goals in the Premier Developmental League last year, scoring 14 goals for the Indiana Invaders.

“He is technically very good,” Clark said. “He’s got a lovely touch with the ball. He can control the ball very well and very quickly and easily. He’s two-footed. He’s a good athlete. He’s good in the air. He’s got an absolute cannon of a shot. He’s got it all actually.”

Mena said he is looking forward to playing Chivas, because it is one of the teams he grew up watching.

“It is exciting being Mexican myself,” Mena said. “It’s not every day, people can say we played against the Mexican national team (which Notre Dame played in the spring), or we played against the Chivas club team.

“Everybody knows that attached to the Mexican name, they are very good at soccer. It is very exciting for me being Mexican and growing up watching Mexican soccer. … It is like this is awesome, I grew up watching clubs like this, and now I get my shot playing against them.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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