McKeesport, Pa. – For Penn State Greater Allegheny soccer player Nick Jugovic, soccer has always been a big part of his life. He started playing from a very young age and even though he played a lot of other sports, soccer was the only one that really stuck with him. He was always encouraged by his parents to try his best at whatever he did and soccer was the one sport where he felt he excelled the most.
“I started soccer way young in YMCA Soccer in kindergarten,” said Jugovic. “That was the one sport I stuck with the most throughout my whole entire life. I tried baseball, I tried basketball and didn’t really like any of those, but soccer was always the sport I came back to and played every season and that really grew my interest.”
The Baldwin HS graduate got to experience the game from a lot of different viewpoints as he was coming up through the sport. During his time at Baldwin, he had three different coaches in four years and he had to adapt to the different coaching styles year in and year out. However, the coach he credits most for his development into the player he is today is Adam Obranovich who coached him during his junior and senior seasons.
“I think I really became closer to the soccer player I am today during my junior and senior year when I was under coach Adam Obranovich,” said Jugovic. “He was probably the best coach I had there just because he didn’t take any crap and he was always very straight forward. He really played to your strengths, he wouldn’t just sit you on the bench, he would work with you and work on the skills you did have.”
Working under head coach Obranovich gave Jugovic a lot of confidence in the sport he loves and allowed him to grow and develop as a player. Initially, high school was the end of the soccer journey for Jugovic. He didn’t have plans to play soccer in college and was looking for somewhere close to home.
However, when he came across Penn State Greater Allegheny it allowed him to both be close to home and play the sport he loves. This was a big reason why Jugovic fell in love with the campus and why he is here today.
“I definitely wanted to stay close so it wouldn’t be too difficult to come and go and that’s when I came across GA,” said Jugovic. “It seemed like a school that was really interested in having me and they made that apparent. I wasn’t expecting to stay here for four years, but as I continued going through schooling here I really liked it and really fell in love with the campus and the professors and the small classrooms. Being able to stay in the soccer program was also a big factor in it and this campus really grew on me over the years and I’m happy to have stayed here.”
One of the biggest transitions for Jugovic going from high school soccer to college soccer was switching from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side. He had been playing an outside midfielder position in high school and was switched to a defender in college soccer.
Jugovic says it was a hard transition for him, but he really got a lot of help from the upperclassmen as he transitioned into the game. One upperclassmen in particular who helped him a lot was Jordan Diaz. Jugovic credits Jordan for allowing him to transition smoothly into college soccer and help him improve at his position as well.
“We had some great upperclassmen on the team [my freshman year] who mentored me, one of which being Jordan [Diaz] one of the older defenders during that time,” said Jugovic. “Jordan really took me under his wing and showed me the proper way to play defense and really got me accustomed to playing that role.”
During Jugovic’s time at PSUGA the soccer program has seen a lot of success. From the Championship run in the 2015/16 season to this season’s historic numbers Jugovic and the rest of the senior class have really helped turn around PSUGA soccer. Jugovic has done a great job handling the defensive side of the ball helping out his goalies and setting the ball up for his strikers.
The 2015/16 championship run was a big year for Jugovic as he not only got to excel with his current friends and teammates on the field, but also got to play with some of his old high school teammates at Baldwin as they started to come up through the PSUGA system.
“One of the most memorable moments for me was definitely our playoff run during my sophomore year,” said Jugovic. “That’s when we saw a couple more people come up in the program here from Baldwin such as Belmo [Nurkic]. That’s also when all the friends I made freshman year on the soccer team were still with us, so it was really great to share that kind of excitement and that moment with them where we are going through playoffs and are actually winning.”
Throughout his entire soccer journey Jugovic went through a lot of change whether it was position or head coach. However, one thing that has stayed the same is the constant support from his parents. Jugovic is very thankful that his parents support him the way they do and he knows he can always count on them for anything.
“They have always been there for me and its real great having them trying to make every game,” said Jugovic. “They are always trying to make every single game and give me any kind of support they can and that’s been going on all the way through middle school. Even if they can’t be there they are giving me good luck and asking me how the game went and everything. Their support has been great and I can’t ask for anymore.”
Jugovic’s message to future PSUGA players is to not only have fun on the field, but work hard in the classroom as well. He is a very dedicated student and wants future generations of students to show that same dedication so that PSUGA soccer can continue to grow and develop in the future.
“My biggest piece of advice would be make friends with your teammates, trust in your coach, and focus on your schoolwork,” said Jugovic. “It can get tough sometimes if you’re playing a bunch of games with all your practices you can fall behind on your studies, but you have to remember that you are here for a degree. Enjoy what you got, enjoy your teammates, enjoy the team, enjoy the season but make sure you are getting done what you need to get done on campus.”
Jugovic had a great season at PSUGA in 2017 helping to break school records in wins and conference wins this season. We wish him good luck in his future endeavors and thank him for the time he has given to PSUGA soccer and the impact he has had on this program.