“What can I say? He’s got a lot of swag.”
This is how fellow teammate Lawrence McDonald PZ ’15 introduced Arash Mahboubi PO ’15, this week’s player profile.
A first-year from La Canada, California, Mahboubi stormed onto the Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer team by securing a starting central midfield spot in eight of nine games this season. Mahboubi was coming off a knee injury from his senior year of high school—in fact, the first time he played since his knee surgery nearly seven months ago was in a kick-around during orientation week. Although this knee surgery obviously hasn’t held Mahboubi back this year, it has prevented him from using his left foot.
“When I try to dribble with my left foot, it’s like the ball just slips away from me,” he said. “I just don’t have the same coordination in my left leg anymore.” Ironically, Mahboubi recorded his first goal of the season last Saturday with a left-footed shot against the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran. His goal, scored in the 84th minute, was all that separated P-P from their opponents in a tough SCIAC away game.
“Maybe my left works better than I thought,” remarked Mahboubi, glad to finally have found the back of the net to give his team the win.
His teammates have certainly enjoyed Mahboubi’s presence on the field. Pitzer Senior leader Evan Munoz praised Mahboubi for his contribution to the team thus far, saying, “He’s doing an awesome job moving the ball around for us.” Forward Danny Nasry PO ’13 added, “He just has that mental and physical quickness that makes for a great central midfielder.”
Mahboubi’s play on the field speaks for itself, but what about off the field? What’s up with this so-called “swag?”
Voted “most interesting person” his senior year of high school, Mahboubi has brought his personality along with his talents to Pomona College. Midfielder Harris Levin PO ’14 said Mahboubi’s team nickname is “Sprinkles” because “he’s so soft and tasty,” but also added that the team often refers to Mahboubi simply as “Swag.” Forward Ian Maier PO ’14 tried to explain the nicknames: “Swag? Well, Arash just keeps the team relaxed with all his jokes. He’s just got that confidence about him that makes for a great soccer player and a funny guy. And ‘Sprinkles?’ We call him Sprinkles because he brings the party to the ice cream.”
Mahboubi tried to play down the funny-guy personality, saying, “On the field, action can get pretty intense, so I definitely try to keep things fun before and after the game. What can I say? I like to make people laugh.”
Mahboubi’s outgoing personality contrasts with fellow first-year, leading goal scorer, and roommate Nate Shekita PO ’15. Shekita set up Mahboubi for his first goal to record his third assist. When asked how it is to live with Mahboubi, Shekita said, “It’s great. We get along well and it’s always fun to talk about the games. But sometimes Arash does keep cracking jokes when I’m trying to study. I don’t know if he knows this, but I told him the headphones I wear are noise-canceling so that I could get some work done when I need to. But overall, it’s great—he’s an awesome roommate.”
Mahboubi’s teammates also mentioned that he probably wins the award for cutest parents. Both of his parents come to every game to support the team and even bring him a couple bags full of goodies that, according to Mahboubi, “range from Gatorades to shirts to cookies to even cups.”
“I’m really thankful that they can make it to my games though. It’s part of the reason I came to Pomona over other schools that were farther away.” Mahboubi also chose Pomona, among many other reasons, because of its strength in the sciences—he hopes someday to become a doctor.
When asked about his heroes, Mahboubi simply mentioned fellow central midfielder and team captain, Robbie Hull PO ’13. Rumor has it that Mahboubi keeps a picture of Hull in his locker that he touches before every home game.
“Robbie Hull’s just a great guy,” he said. “He’s so awesome. He’s got so much swag. From the first day of training, I knew I wanted to be friends with this guy.”
Mahboubi said he and Hull have struck it off well, and Hull even requested that Mahboubi express his feelings for him in a love poem. “I think he knows that I look up to him a lot, ” Arash explained, “and maybe he just wants to have those feelings recorded in a meaningful way.”
Besides continuing to build his relationship with Hull, Mahboubi also hopes to win SCIAC this year. “I think we definitely have the ability to win the league. We still have a lot of work to do, but if we keep up the intensity and the composure, we can definitely get there.”
To see Arash Mahboubi in action, come support the Sagehens as they take on Redlands this Saturday, Oct. 8, at 11 a.m. And if you get there early enough, you may even catch a glimpse of that famous swag.