Learning how to play soccer in America? That was the easy part.
Learning the language, that was a bit trickier.
Scotty Marc is a junior defender on the Samuel Fels High School soccer team, and ever since he enrolled in high school, he’s been a key player for the Panthers. But having arrived in Philadelphia from Haiti in December of 2016, he came here not knowing the language. Unlike soccer in his native land, communication was much different when he got here.
“I spoke (Haitian) Creole in Haiti, I didn’t know English very well at all,” said Marc, who lives in Olney. “Some parts were hard, but some parts were easy because of the language I spoke, some of the words matched.
“The hardest part was knowing when to form a phrase or how to form a phrase. It wasn’t too hard because I knew if I put in the effort, and once I learned English, people would know I was trying and they’d help me. It wasn’t too hard at all, but there were times when it was tough.”
Soccer is a universal language, and that’s one Marc speaks fluently. Although he did make some changes since coming to America.
In Haiti, Marc was responsible for scoring goals. When he got to Fels, the Panthers had a bunch of players who could fill the net, but were lacking tough players on the backline who could shut opponents down. It wasn’t his first choice, but Marc agreed to play defense, and since moving back there, he’s fallen in love with the position.
“I played in Haiti, but I usually played forward,” Marc said. “Ever since I came to high school, a lot of players didn’t want to play defense, so I took one for the team and moved back. I’m still learning. It’s tough but it’s also easy because you have a different visual of the field.
“When you’re playing forward, you don’t see the field as well. It is harder when you’re playing against advanced players, but it’s getting easier for me. I think I’m becoming much better at the position.”
He must be, because the Panthers are clawing their way to the top of the Public League.
The Panthers are 4-1 on the year and are continuing to pick up momentum.
They might have surprised a lot of their opponents, but the guys in the locker room knew there was potential for a great season.
And they’re very much living up to those expectations early in the year.
“I kind of expected to be good, but I believe at this point, that this year is going to be our year,” Marc said. “I don’t think it, I know it. I have so much faith in our players. I have faith that everyone will come to their senses when the time is right and play the way they’re supposed to play. Everyone is still learning, but they’re learning fast and they’re playing very well. It’s the whole team.”
The Panthers, led by first-year head coach Chris Jones, do have a roster full of hardworking players who are doing everything in their power to make sure the team continues to play good soccer against tough Public League opponents, but they’re still learning how to win.
That’s where Marc comes in.
“My role is to be the captain and leader,” Marc said. “I’m very friendly with everyone, I make sure they work hard, make sure they believe in themselves, make sure to work hard in practice. The practice is the hard part, the game is the easy part.
“I lead by example. I try to get everyone to come in and give them each and everyone a pep talk when I can. I try to get them to warm up even before the coaches tell us. We’re ready to practice and stretch and make sure everyone plays the ball, has fun and does whatever we’re supposed to do.”
The team listens to Marc. So does his family when he calls them to tell them about the Panthers.
When Marc came to America, he was joined by his dad, a former soccer player, and his little brother Elijar, who is a sophomore on the Fels soccer team.
But back in Haiti, he still has a lot of family, and while he misses them, he sees them quite often on video chat and one of the topics they discuss is the success of the Fels soccer team.
“I talk to them a lot, my mom and my aunt, my cousin, my oldest brother, grandmom and grandpa,” Marc said. “It’s hard not being with them, I miss them a lot, I think they would come here, I’m working hard to get them over here.
“We talk a lot, on the phone or on video chat or voice calls. We talk about soccer a lot. They’re very proud of what we are doing.”
Marc is hoping to ride his soccer career to a college education and a great job.
“After high school, I wanted to become a doctor, but the blood stuff always gets to me, so as of now, I want to work in the physics field after high school,” Marc said. “I do pretty well in school. History is my favorite subject, but I like all of them.”
He also likes what’s going on with the Fels soccer team.
“The best part is the experience, the people are very nice, we all get along, we all have fun,” Marc said. “Our chemistry is different from the past years. It’s something I can work with better. We had a great coach, but our new coach is doing great, too. He’s making us become better, just like our former coach. And we have new players, we’re learning new ways to communicate. It’s a lot of fun to be part of the program.”