Boys' soccer: Amer Sasivarevic stabilizes Olympus offense
Amer Sasivarevic is careful to repeat the same process before every game.
The Olympus midfielder puts on his left sock, then his right. He ties his left shoe, then his right. He drinks five sips of water no more and no less.
"Those are pretty much my three things," Sasivarevic says. "Every time I do it, I feel like I play my game."
This season, no one's arguing with him. The junior has been a leader for the Titans, scoring six goals through his first four games.
He's not only a scoring phenom, but his play helps stabilize Olympus' ball control offense. And when he can get the ball in space near the goal, opponents don't seem to know just how to stop him.
"He's always had a real high skill level, but it just seems this year he understands when to attack," coach Chris Sonntag says. "He's a pretty special player, and he's one of the more talented kids I've ever coached. And now he's kind of grown up, and he's really asserting himself."
That skill has been honed by years of experience on the club team of his uncle, Nermin Sasivarevic, and four years in Utah's Olympic Development Program. Last summer, he spent some time on Real Salt Lake's Academy team, as well.
But soccer is more than just a pursuit for Sasivarevic it's a connection to his family's past.
His father, Aris Sasivarevic, grew up in Bosnia, where he and his brother developed a love for the sport. They both played for a team based in their town when they were young.
Civil war forced the Sasivarevic family to Munich, Germany, where Amer was born. In 1999, they emigrated to Utah when they no longer could stay in Germany as refugees.
When his uncle started a soccer club team, Amer latched on when he was 10 years old. From then on, he was hooked.
He's loaded up his club schedule when he isn't playing high school, and even when he has time off the field, he'll plop down on the couch between his dad and his uncle to watch soccer on TV FC Barcelona if possible.
"I just love playing so much soccer, even though it's kind of crazy," Sasivarevic says. "Every day, I see it as an opportunity for me to get better. I really want to play professionally or college someday."
For now, his focus is squarely on making Olympus the best team it can be. Sasivarevic became a team captain this year, and the difference has shown.
He's formed a strong tandem with fellow midfielder Blaze Nelson. The two dominate the Titans' offense by setting their teammates and each other up for scoring chances. They're key pieces in a team that has still been coming together defensively.
"It's nice because with those two in the midfield, we finally have the kind of possession we wanted, and we have enough offense to win games," Sonntag says. "It's a good backbone. They're really on the same page."
Sonntag calls the two players "bookends." Sasivarevic describes it as a much more intuitive relationship.
"I think you're kind of born with it, you just know each other," he says. "We don't have to have a conversation, it's just something that clicks. We take turns getting our teammates involved, but we can also take the ball by ourselves and know how to make a difference."
Olympus appears to be an early contender in Region 7, thanks much in part to the two midfielders. Sasivarevic is excited to see where it leads.
And so are his parents, who are perched on the sideline of every game.
"I learned from them that soccer is different here than in other parts of the world, but they let me do my thing," Sasivarevic says. "They've been supporting me my whole career."
Amer Sasivarevic lifts Titans
In his first four games, the junior scored six goals
He has experience with Utah ODP and the Real Salt Lake Academy team
Serves as a captain alongside fellow midfielder Blaze Nelson