Alex Solopenkov ’17 is a starting wide receiver and one of the captains for the football team this season. For Solopenkov, football has always been about the speed of things—from his quick adjustment to being a leader on the football team to his agility on the field. For his first two high school football seasons, Solopenkov attended North Brunswick High School. In his junior year, his first season playing football at Princeton High School, Solopenkov was thrust into a leadership position as a starting wide receiver, having to adjust not only to the new school, but also to being a leader on the field.
“I came [to PHS] and started playing … kids looked up to me in a way that made me do my part in a leadership role,” Solopenkov said.
While at North Brunswick High School, Solopenkov played junior varsity football his freshman year and was unable to play football his sophomore year due to an injury. When he came to Princeton High School, he was excited because his ability to play meant that he could step into a large role for the team.
While adjusting to the new school, Solopenkov focused on areas he could control.
“Despite changes in the people around me and the coaches … I kept working hard on the things that I could control such as my speed and performance, because football is football.”
Solopenkov, who has been playing football since eighth grade, knows the importance of hard work. He spends nearly every weekend during the offseason at a camp training, working on footwork, and practicing catches.
Assistant football coach Danny Rodriguez has noticed Solopenkov’s work ethic.
“Alex is very hard-working and dedicated. He is self driven and leads through the example of hard work to the rest of the team,” Rodriguez said.
Being a multisport athlete has also helped him develop as a football player. Solopenkov swam during his freshman and sophomore year, has run track for the past three years, and plans on running again this winter.
“Swimming used every muscle of the body, so it helped me get into shape overall, and then track mainly helped with my speed [for football],” Solopenkov said.
Speed, specifically in football, is something that Solopenkov prides himself in, making him difficult for cornerbacks to keep up with. His fastest 40 yard dash is 4.5 seconds.
Solopenkov’s biggest inspiration is the person who introduced him to the sport: his mother.
“She’s the one who got me into football. She’s been there for every single game, she’s been the push that made me want to get better, and she introduced me to coaches [who] would help me improve my game.”
Despite having a losing record this year, Princeton High School football has been a positive experience for Solopenkov, and he is sure that he will be playing college football in the future.