As a three time varsity soccer letterman, three time TCIS champion, and two-time Division 1 state champion, George Selamaj has been a huge asset to the Cape Henry soccer program for the last three years. But when asked to describe George as a player, Cape Henry coach Dave Brun did not describe him as the best athlete on the field. Instead he said this: “Too often in sports, we get fixated on the biggest, fastest, strongest, when the truth is, some people are just better at playing the game than everyone else is. George is one of those people.”
A perfect example of George’s soccer “sixth sense” can be found in last fall’s state quarterfinal playoff game when Cape Henry faced off against Paul VI, and George scored the winning goal in overtime. It wasn’t a laser from thirty yards out, but it was, in some ways, more impressive. As Coach Brun put it “George knew exactly where the cross was going to go before anyone else on the field did and then put himself in a perfect spot to hit the ball past a moving keeper. Vintage George.”
But George did not come to Cape Henry for the athletics. Rather, George joined our community as a sophomore because he was looking for an intellectual challenge. As his mom put it at the time, “this move is not about soccer. Coming to Cape Henry is an investment in George’s academic future.” George admits that the initial transition was rough as he tried to juggle a rigorous academic schedule full of AP and Honors classes with a soccer schedule that saw him playing for both his school and his club during that first fall. But he had known Coach Brun for years, which gave him a sense of constancy, and he already knew a lot of the soccer team when he arrived, which made the social adjustment an easy one. And academically, just as he consistently outthinks his opponents on the pitch, George quickly figured it all out, truly finding his place in Leanne Self’s AP Language class. According to George, the class pushed him to become a better writer and gave him a better appreciation of the English language. Mrs. Self, in turn, admires George for his work ethic (he often turned in ten journal pages for her to review when she only asked for five) and attention to detail, as he regularly asked her to clarify assignments to make sure that he was not headed down the wrong path. His efforts were rewarded with a 5 on the AP Language exam, and he also impressed in AP Government, where he wrote an outstanding 25 page research paper on his parents’ homeland of Albania, where his father led the protests that helped overthrow the Communist government in 1990.
As a person, George is mature beyond his years. As Coach Brun put it “[h]e’s smarter than I will ever be and our conversations have been the same whether he was twelve or eighteen”, and Mrs. Self described George as a role model, a leader who listens, and a “wise old soul.” And when it came time for George to pick a college, it was UVA from the beginning. While a number of coaches from other schools contacted George about playing soccer at the next level, George had been visiting UVA since he was small and had always dreamed of becoming a Wahoo. What better place for a “wise old soul” than “Mr. Jefferson’s University.” The investment paid off.