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Warshaw Returns Home with City Islanders

By SCOTT KESSLER – Contributor, 04/19/16, 2:42PM EDT


Mechanicsburg, Pa. native setting standard in leadership role with Harrisburg

Photo courtesy Pattie Anderson / Richmond Kickers

About 10 miles outside Harrisburg, Pa. lies Mechanicsburg, a borough of about 9,000 residents in Cumberland County. Covering only 2.41 square miles, Mechanicsburg is a tiny town that has produced Bret Michaels, lead singer of the band Poison, and Andrew Kevin Walker, script writer for the movie “Se7en,” but has remained relatively unknown outside of its area.

It was this small community that helped to shape Bobby Warshaw, who returned to the area when he signed a contract with the Harrisburg City Islanders this offseason. Time spent on fields in middle and high school helped the midfielder reach Stanford University, then Major League Soccer, before meeting his dream goal of playing in Europe. Now he’s back after a few seasons spent in Scandinavia.

“It’s a different feel about life,” Warshaw said to about making the move back to his childhood home. “Before everything I did was a little weird. I would take the town bus to games. Then I’d walk from the bus stop [to the stadium]. You’d see the flag up in town it doesn’t mean as much as seeing same street signs or taking the same roads I have my whole life.

“The way I go to practice now is the way my Dad went to work for 30 years,” he added. “We’ve trained at the same places I trained while in high school. Going from that feeling that it was constantly weird – things felt foreign and were foreign – to come home, it feels like home. I know it’s a cliché thing to say it feels like home, but it really does feel like home. It is home.”

The ability to play at home was a huge selling point to Warshaw, who took his shot in Europe and decide to come back to America, and it helped with his concerns about transitioning into a new league with a different style of play. Warshaw isn’t worried about the differences moving forward.

“It should always be hard,” Warshaw said. “The transition soccer-wise feels thoroughly regular. When I’m on the field, I’m trying to being my best self. It’s a different challenge every time.”

Warshaw’s experiences at home and overseas give him immediate credibility to talk about those challenges with the younger players on the squad. The 27-year-old framed his advisor role for his teammates as showing he isn’t resting on his laurels, but rather continues to compete every game.

“I think the best mentor you can be is to be hungry,” Warshaw said. “As much as I want to bring this worldly experience as a veteran, you want to teach these guys that every day could be your last. I know it sounds lame, but that’s important.”

The Islanders made a slow start to the season, which put some pressure on veterans like Warshaw to help stabilize the team. Warshaw has tried to help provide big picture perspective to the club, which picked up its first win of the season this past Saturday against Orlando City B.

In spite of the challenges which face the club by a changing USL landscape, and a tough opening schedule, Warshaw is confident that the team will find itself and begin to progress forward as it prepares for its home opener this Friday against Louisville City FC.

“I think that combination of early games against established competition and playing on the road makes it difficult,” Warshaw said. “We have to stay level headed. We’ll win plenty of games if we don’t get stressed out.”