High performance: Meet an elite athlete joining ECE

Mehdi Essoussi (ECE Year 1) shakes off a defender in a game against Colorado Rapids in Houston. (Courtesy: Mehdi Essoussi)

Mehdi Essoussi (ECE Year 1) shakes off a defender in a game against Colorado Rapids in Houston. (Courtesy: Mehdi Essoussi)

October 2, 2018

Marit Mitchell

For many students starting university, a question lurks in the back of their minds: how will they conquer this new challenge? For Mehdi Essoussi (ECE Year 1), thriving under pressure is just part of his training.

The first-year student is an elite athlete who competes on the world stage — Essoussi is a midfielder with the Toronto Football Club feeder team TFC III.

Now, he’s ready to apply the work ethic, determination and perseverance he’s  developed over years of practice and training to their next challenge: first year in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE).

Essoussi sat down with U of T Engineering News to share his plans for the year ahead — both in and out of the gym — and his approach to managing the demands of both training and school.

Why did you choose to join Electrical & Computer Engineering at U of T?

The engineering program at U of T is one of the best and well-renowned. I choose Electrical and Computer Engineering because I like the combination of science and technology with creativity and innovation, and the applications of ECE are endless in many sectors. Also, the fact that I play soccer with Toronto FC made it easier for me to make the decision to stay in the city.

What has been your most memorable moment in your sporting career to date?

There are several memorable moments in my soccer life, like playing with Team Ontario, being called  to a Canadian National team Identification Camp, and being recruited by Toronto FC Academy.

But signing a United Soccer League professional contract this year is my most recent memorable moment and one of the most exciting!

What are you most looking forward to about athletics at U of T?

As a professional player with Toronto FC, I am not able to play Varsity.

Will you continue playing with TFC III during school — how often, and what are your goals with that group?

Yes, I will continue playing during school. I have practice on a daily basis and games on weekends (mainly in Canada or in the US). I am now participating with the TFC III team in the USSDA U18/19 league. My goal is to constantly work hard in every single training and game to continue evolving as a player, perform well with my team, and reach the maximum of my potential.

Do you have any unique approaches or tricks for balancing school with competitive sport?

It is challenging to do both, so I manage it like a project. This allows me to plan my days and study in advance as much as possible, organizing and managing my time efficiently. Putting maximum effort and concentration in everything I do helps me not lose precious time and keep the balance between studies and soccer.

Study and exam times, practices, games, days away – they have to all fit in a tight schedule. Self-discipline and perseverance is what helps me continue my journey. Since expectations are high for both soccer and studies, it takes commitment and dedication, and it’s all driven by self-discipline and passion.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

This article originally appeared on U of T Engineering News.

More information:
Jessica MacInnis
Senior Communications Officer
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
416-978-7997; jessica.macinnis@utoronto.ca