Eljo Agolli has learned a lot by working construction with his father.
The biggest thing he learned is he doesn’t want to do it when he grows up.
“I want to have a job that’s not as hard, physically demanding,” said Agolli, a senior at Northeast High School. “I don’t do a lot while working with him. I’ll do some driving and helping out with little projects, mostly getting him tools when he needs it. He works really, really hard. He’s good at it, too.
“He doesn’t own his own business, he just goes out and does projects, so it’s hard. But he’s very good at it. He works a lot harder than I do for our family. I want to work in other ways, do something that requires work, but more thinking than working hard like he does.”
Agolli certainly works hard. He might not love doing it as a job, but when it comes to his favorite sport, he’s always willing to put in all the effort needed.
Agolli is a center defensive midfielder on the Northeast soccer team, and last year his efforts were rewarded with a Public League championship. It was his second year on the Vikings varsity team after playing a season on the Father Judge freshmen team before transferring prior to his sophomore year. That year, the Vikings fell to Franklin Towne Charter in the Public League championship game, so Agolli has had a lot of success since coming to Northeast.
He was hoping to go out with back-to-back championships, but whether he’ll get a chance to even play remains to be seen after the Public League postponed its fall season due to coronavirus.
The Albania native and Rhawnhurst resident really hopes to put on the black and red again, but he’s not just waiting around. He’s still getting a lot of touches while improving his game against bigger and stronger players.
He hopes that pays dividends.
“Over the summer, I played on two teams, a club team and I played in a men’s league,” Agolli said. “It was hard, playing on the men’s team, but it definitely made me become a better player. It was a pretty physical league, so I was getting pushed around and I pushed people around.
“I liked playing a lot of soccer because that’s how you get better. I played a lot and I could play different positions. It helped me get better and become a more well-rounded player. The more places you can play, the better it is.”
He’s now just hoping he can play any position for the Vikings.
This year, he was selected to be a captain for Northeast, a job he was looking forward to. He also wanted a chance to defend the championship he and his teammates earned a season ago. He liked the chances of repeating, too.
“I think this year we were going to have a very good team, so I’m hoping we get a chance to play, maybe later in the year,” Agolli said. “It felt really good to win it last year, and I think it’s even more important to win it my senior year. I think everyone feels that way, that they want to win it their senior year.
“I’m excited to be a captain. I didn’t know why I got picked, I’m not the loudest guy. I try to lead by doing things. If I can help people, I’ll do it. That’s the kind of leader I am. I’m not going to be the loud leader, but I’ll help anyone and do what I can to be a leader. And if we can, we really want to help lead the team to another championship when we play.”
A solid senior year would do more than just give Agolli a chance to go out in style. It would also give him a chance to impress a college.
He hopes to major in business and definitely wants to play soccer. He’s unsure where he’ll end up, though.
“I like big schools, like Northeast, I like being at big schools,” Agolli said. “I’ve talked to a few colleges, but nothing yet. I love playing midfield, but I’ll play anywhere except keeper. Unless they asked me to. I’m not a good keeper, but I’ll play anywhere I can. I just want to play in college.
“Business seems like a great job for me. I’m not sure what I want to do, but opening a business seems like a great way to make a living, so I’d like to learn about that.”
He knows a strong senior year on the field and in the classroom would make that an achievable goal, so he plans on hitting the books hard and staying in shape.
At home, he has the best way to keep fit.
He’s always playing around with his siblings, including his sister Vanessa, 14, a freshman who plays volleyball at Northeast. But the one who really keeps him on his toes is Joel, his 2-year-old brother.
If he can keep up with that little guy, he can mark any player in the Public League for 80 minutes.
“I love having him around, but he’s tough because he never stops,” Agolli said. “He never runs out of energy. I play with him all the time, and we have fun. But it does keep you in shape. He never seems to get tired, so I’ll come home from playing and he’s ready to play for hours. He’s tough to keep up with, but I love playing with him. We’re all really close.”