Men’s Soccer: Buzzas and Wootton honored and humbled to lead Buckeyes

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Ohio State then-freshman midfielder Laurence Wootton (17) moves the ball down the field during the Ohio State-Northwestern game March 7. Ohio State won 4-2. Credit: Christian Harsa | Special Projects Director

Samuel Buzzas and Laurence Wootton have proven that they are talented on the soccer field, but in 2021 they are taking on more responsibilities than the average student-athlete.

Buzzas and Wootton are leaders on and off the field in their teammates’ and coaches’ eyes as they were named captains of the 2021 Ohio State men’s soccer team. The co-captainship has shown the different styles of leadership between the redshirt senior and sophomore, respectively.

However, the connection the two captains have off the field has generated leadership results that guide the men’s soccer team. Buzzas said both he and Wootton are as close as it gets off the field, and the relationship they have allows them to work together as leaders.

“It is honestly a really great relationship. I would say off the field, Laurence is one of my better friends on the team. Us being paired together has kind of worked out as the best of both worlds,” Buzzas said. “He is obviously one of the best players on the field and is super capable. I am sort of a leader off the field for the guys who aren’t seeing as much playing time.”

Head coach Brian Maisonneuve echoed Buzzas sentiment.

Maisonneuve said Wootton leads by example, whereas Buzzas leads on the sidelines as he is working through ankle issues.

“[Laurence] has a great soccer brain and a very high IQ in terms of seeing the field, so he does a really good job of leading on the field,” Maisonneuve said. “Buzzas has been hurt most of the year, he has been doing a lot of leading in the locker room and he has been doing a wonderful job of passing the information that he’s had, in terms of his experiences onto the younger guys.”

Assistant coach Travis Morris pointed to Buzzas and Wootton’s friendly nature as a driving factor in their leadership.

Morris emphasized both of their abilities to create relationships with all of their teammates, bringing the unit closer together.

“The relationships they have with each individual on the team are all really strong. As a captain, they need to have those real relationships with everybody on the team so they understand where everybody is coming from and they can relate on a personable level,” Morris said.

Buzzas and Wootton said they understand the role and responsibility that comes with being captain after being elected by their teammates.

“When they did the vote and they announced that I was the captain, I was a little shocked and very humbled by the whole experience,” Buzzas said. “I just continue to work hard every single day for every one of my teammates.”

Wootton, a native of England, is fairly young for a team captain, leading the team as a sophomore.

Despite being so young, Wootton said  he has always had a leadership quality, so he wasn’t surprised when his peers voted him captain.

“I have always kind of held a leadership role within the teams that I’ve played for in the past. It is something that I can’t get away from,” Wootton said. “To get the captaincy, I expected it, but all the same it is a real honor and hopefully I can do it justice for the boys and the program.”

Morris said their styles of leadership are different, but Buzzas and Wootton produce successful leadership.

“Buzzas is more talkative from a day-to-day perspective when he addresses the group, and I think Laurence picks and chooses a little bit more,” Morris said. “Laurence talks a little bit more at halftime because he was in the game, and Buzz will address the group after training.”

Maisonneuve said that Buzzas and Wootton are two individuals the team wanted as captains because of their communication skills.

“Both of them are very good communicators, not only speaking, but it’s also listening, as well as speaking up in the locker room and doing everything that we need a captain to do,” Maisonneuve said.

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