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10 Questions for Danilo

Senior midfielder Danilo has played a significant role in the transformation of the Binghamton men's soccer team since he arrived three years ago. The Bearcats, who went 2-17 in 2001, have won the 2003 America East Conference title, advanced to the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament and have been nationally ranked in both 2004 as well as this season.

After being named second-team all-conference in 2003, Danilo was named first-team all-conference as well as first-team All-New York Region in 2004. In the classroom, he has been a consistent Dean List student. This summer, Danilo played for the Des Moines Menace, a Premier Development League team which competed against professional squads from the MLS.

The 2004 season came to a hearbreaking finish for the Bearcats, who were defeated by Boston in America East finals. The game, which went into the shootout, was especially tough for Danilo as his penalty kick was the lone Binghamton shot that was saved by the Boston goalkeeper. Despite the setback, Binghamton knew that without Danilo, they would have not advanced as far as they had.

Binghamton head coach Paul Marco puts it best when summing up Danilo's impact on the program.

"Danilo is our workhorse," he said. "He has done a lot for us both offensively and defensively. He'll usually cover between five and six miles a game."

Orginally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Danilo will graduate next spring with a degree in business.

1. Tell us about your experience with the Des Moines Menace and how it helped you improve as a player.

Definitely I had the best summer ever. Practicing everyday in such a high level, since we had some of the best college players in the country, made me a lot better. And by playing so many games, against good players as well, I also improved my experience and game shape. The best part of my experience was playing the Kansas City Wizards from the MLS because I played against some of the top pro players in the U.S. Also, the PDL final on a national broadcast because the pressure I felt by playing a big final, and still being able to play my best game.

2. You came here from Brazil three years ago. How difficult was to make the transition to the American game and the American culture?

On the soccer fields basically I lost my freshman season because it was totally different. I need to adapt a lot. In here, tactical things counts a lot. In Brazil, it is easier to be a soccer coach because you just need to put your best 11 and let them do the work. I say lost because I didn't have any recognization from the others like I had the past two seasons. I even think many people doubted how good could I really be. But I knew it would happen, because for any other country I move to, soccer will be different.

The main issue I faced on the culture part was to follow too many laws and rules. We have them written in Brazil, but not really followed. I am an expert about skipping them. In the U.S, I learned to make sure to accept the rules as much as possible, otherwise I wouldnt survive.

3. You have been recognized not just for you accomplishments on the field, but also in the classroom. What is the key to balancing athletics and academics for you?

In my case it was easy. I am very well organized, so I always make sure I know what is going on my classes and what is coming on next. Many athletes have the same quality because we don't have a lot of free time, as much as a normal student has, so we need to always be sure we have time for school work. Last, but not least, I know my GPA may help me to get a job after this year, so I have been trying to keep it as high as I can.

4. What are you plans for after graduation, both on and off the playing field?

My plan is to have a great senior season and see where it will put my name on. If I can make pro, I will go for that, because soccer has always been my number 1 goal. If not, I will try to get a good job, especially down to Miami, and run away from New York winters. But I don't plan to live far from my family forever, so soon I will need to bring them here, or move back.

5. You arrived at Binghamton the same time as head coach Paul Marco. Talk about the impact that he has had on the Binghamton soccer program.

It is too simple. We were ranked #198 three seasons ago. Now, we are frequently in the Top 25, and trust me, we will be higher soon. We won one conference title and lost one final in three years. People today see soccer as one of the best programs in the school and I agree about that. Soon, we will have a great stadium for soccer and I can see that helping Binghamton to be recognized as one of the top soccer programs in the country in few years. Unfortunately I wont be in here, but my class will leave with heads up, because we have done a good job, and most of this we thank not only to Marco's dedication, but also to (John) Scott's and (Scott) Craig's.

6. The soccer team has had so many great moments the past two seasons. If you had to go back and relive one of those moments, what would it be and why?

Many people say our conference final in 2003 was the biggest event ever at Binghamton. I agree, but it was a home game, so it is not too hard to get people to come down to watch us on a final. But, having something like 200 hundred people going to New Jersey to watch us against FDU on the NCAA first round, both in buses and cars, three hours away to watch a soccer game is something I will never forget. I can remember our fans cheering that Binghamton had more fans in the stadium that FDU, and that was true. Not only more people, but we were noisier and funnier as well.

7. How much motivation does the team having from the way last season ended? How about you personally?

Both the team and I want to have other chance to play the conference final and change something we couldn't have done last year. Since its my senior sesion, better I get that done now. We lost to a great team, but in a game we had played better and we were six minutes away from the title. Personally, that PK I missed was the worse moment I have ever lived in soccer and if I need any reason to run and work harder this season I just need to remember the feeling I had when I saw the trophy going to someone else's hands.

8. Very few people actually know your last name. Why is it so common for soccer players in Brazil to only go by their first name?

In Brazil many times I don't know my best friend's last name because we have the tradition to use first names. Of course, I have a last name and even a middle name. Nice to meet you, I am Danilo Rocha Oliveira. But you won't find many people who like to be called by their last names; I guess because it looks like odd. If you call me Oliveira, I will feel you are calling for my dad and not for me. So, I asked coach to not use my last name at the roster when I first got in here. This summer in Des Moines, I wanted to kill whoever used to call me by Oliveira, because on the roster they didnt want to have only Danilo. One example about how much I don't like last names is that I gave my Des Moines PDL final's jersey to a friend, instead of keeping that especial jersey, because it has the name Oliveira in the back and I don't feel that is mine.

9. What led you to come to Binghamton University? Did you always know that you wanted to study and play in another country during college?

I had people trying to bring me to play in the U.S since 1998, but by that time I was still in high school and trying to go pro in Brazil. When I saw it wasn't going to happen as I had planned, I started talking to the St. John's coaches and we had everything set up until less than a month to come for pre-season. Something didn't work well and they couldnt give me the scholarship. So, they recommended me to John Scott and after talking to him, I decided to come, even if I didn't know a lot about the school, city and soccer program. To be sincere, when I flew to New York, my dad told me it would be okay if I didn't like the place and decided to fly back a week later. Definitely, besides to visit my family on our breaks, I never thought about leaving this school.

10. How have you changed since you came to Binghamton--not just as an athlete but as a person?

As an athlete, I changed some of my style. I used to be more a technical player but to be able to do well in the U.S, I got a lot stronger and faster. So, my fitness level increased a lot, and even my friends back in Brazil make fun of that, seing I kind of look like an American player.

As a person, I learned to like a country different than my home. I am totally adapted to this country and culture and I think I may live in here for many more years. Also, the experience I have learned by having so many different cultures and ideas in the same place is something I would never get by just living in Brazil. I hope this all made me a better person, which is the most important thing I try to achieve on a daily basis.

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