Cardinal Sports Zone was able catch up with former Cardinal point guard Edgar Sosa, coming up on 5 months since he suffered a nasty broken leg while playing for his country’s (Dominican Republic) national team in a FIBA tournament match against Panama. Sosa knows exactly what he wants to achieve in the future and has been rehabbing quite vigorously in order to get back to maximum health. With all of the injuries, plus the “rough patch” that our Cards are currently battling through, who better than Edgar to give some input on the tough times he’s faced as a basketball player, the Big East Championship, and what it takes to battle back from a possible career ending injury.
CSZ: You dealt with your fair share of adversity while playing for the University of Louisville (the mental aspect, the ups & downs, fans expectations, managing friends, family and money etc.), how did that help you deal with some of the issues that have occurred since leaving?
Sosa: Playing at Louisville was the first time that I ever faced adversity on the basketball court in my life. Growing up I went through a lot. My father wasn’t in my life; my mom raised me and my older brothers. We were poor and didn’t really have much, but as long as I had my basketball to go to the park and play basketball, life was good because that’s all I wanted to do. Basketball has been the reason why I haven’t gone to jail or turned to the streets or even drink. My life is basketball, everyday I wake up I have basketball on my mind and when I go to sleep basketball is on my mind. It’s all I think about and it’s everything to me. So when I began to go through that adversity in Louisville, I didn’t know how to act because it had never happened to me. Looking back on it now I would’ve changed a couple of things. Mentally I was a roller coaster at Louisville; I felt at times that I was always doing the wrong thing on the basketball court which always caused me to be subbed out or benched. So, because of that my confidence was down and it was frustrating, frustrating because I knew that I was more than good enough to be successful at the collegiate level, but for some reason couldn’t put it together. What fans thought about me really took a toll on me while I was at school because it went from Edgar Sosa is a great point guard, best player on the team as a freshman, to Edgar Sosa is not good, he needs to come off the bench and we hate Edgar Sosa as the years went on. Thinking back, I don’t know why I let the fans get to me the way they did because at the end of the day fans are going to be fans. To a fan you’re going to be great and their favorite player when you’re doing well to, “You’re a bum, you suck and we hate you” when things are going bad. Prime example, look at how bad the fans were dogging out Peyton Siva. That’s just the world we live in and it’s something that I understand now that I’m in a different situation, a bit older and wiser. I didn’t understand that while I was at Louisville. The way all the negativity helped me once I left Louisville was that it helped me become a bit stronger and have a stronger mentality. I’m at the point in my basketball career today that I honestly don’t care what fans think of me. If you have something nice to say to me as a fan I would smile and say thank you and continue on with my day and if a fan has something negative to say about me I would smile say thank you and continue on with my day. Because at the end of the day you can be the nicest and most humble person in the world and a person is still going to think whatever they want to about you. For example, some of the fans in Louisville that disliked me, I bet you if they’d met me and knew the person I was, they would think different but since they don’t know me they are going to keep believing what they do. Since I can’t sit down and talk and have a conversation with every single fan that hates Edgar Sosa, I just continue to live my life smile and worry about the things that Edgar Sosa can control and the things I can’t control I leave it in the hands of God.
CSZ: What about Edgar Sosa has changed most since you have left the University of Louisville? What has stayed the same?
Sosa: What has changed about me since I left Louisville is that I really don’t get down on myself on the basketball court. I just go out there and play. I have to act like a professional through a good game or bad game. This is something that I learned from older players on my team when I played in Italy. What has stayed the same is my workout ethic, I have always been a hard worker. I wake up in the morning and all I think about is how am I going to get better or what do I have to do today to have the advantage over the next point guard, this is the way I’ve always been. Throughout my career at Louisville there hasn’t been another player that spent more time than me in the gym outside of regular team practice and I think every teammate that I had for my four years at Louisville would agree with me. My teammates would be upset with me at times because I never really partied while at Louisville. I used my Friday and Saturday nights to go get some shots up or get a lift in.
CSZ: How does it feel to be a professional basketball player? Tell me some of the memories you have of Italy and of the Italian league? Food? Cities?
Sosa: It feels great to be a professional basketball player. I am able to provide for my family now financially, so that’s always great. I had a lot of good memories in Italy. Had a chance to play against a couple of players that you kinda look up to as a kid that played college basketball when I was younger and now a couple of years later down the road I’m playing against these dudes and going at it with these dudes in games. That’s something that was fun. I was the only rookie to make the all-star game in such a high level league in Europe, so I was excited about that. The food was great in Italy, a lot of pasta and different types of cheeses, it was great. I stayed in a small city called Biella, it’s about an hour away from Milan. While in Italy I didn’t really go to many places, I was just worried about basketball and playing well. I would go to Milan every now and then to shop and eat Burger King when I would get tired of pasta.
CSZ: You suffered an injury that many said or thought would be career ending for you. Please explain your daily rehab routine since and also your current status. When do you expect to be recovered and ready to play again?
Sosa: Right now I’m doing rehabilitation eight times a week, six days a week. I do double session of rehab on both Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. My rehab consists of an hour pool workout, an hour of weight lifting, 45 minutes of cardio and a full body message that usually takes up 90 minutes most days. In rehab sessions alone, I’m usually in there from 11 a.m until about 3:30 p.m just working on getting my leg stronger, my full body stronger and staying in shape as best I can while not being able to run, jump or play basketball. I do all of this so when I make the transition to playing basketball again I can hit the ground running and pick up on the things I left off before I got hurt. I can focus on getting better instead of having to take time to get in shape before touching a basketball. I honestly feel that right now I’m in the best shape of my life and I can’t even sprint yet. That’s why I’m convinced that I’ll be a better basketball player when I get back than I was before I got hurt. I have between 60 and 90 days before I’m fully recovered. Then it’s all about getting back into the flow of playing the game and also getting back into basketball shape, as people would say.
CSZ: All Card fans remember the last time the Cards beat Kentucky in Freedom Hall and the last second dagger you stuck them with. Tell us some of your other fond memories while playing at the University.
Sosa: I have so many memories at the University on and off the court, makes me miss the place so much. A great memory for me has to be winning the Big East both regular and post season. It meant so much to me because even though we didn’t win a national championship, the team, my junior year, was really good. In my opinion we had 2 starting 5′s on that roster and for us to win the Big East on the year that the conference was the deepest it had ever been in the history of the Big East Conference from top to bottom meant so much. We’ll always be remembered for doing that against such great competition that year.
CSZ: How did it feel to win the Big East title in front your family and friends and in your hometown NYC?
Sosa: Winning the Big East in front of my friends and family meant so much to my family and myself. A lot of people have to understand that being a New Yorker that plays basketball, celebrating a Big East championship on “The Garden” floor is one of our dreams, it’s all we see as kids. I can remember going to Big East games as a little kid watching Big East teams win titles on that floor, saying things to myself like “That’s going to be me one day” and that dream came true! I’m pretty sure there was a kid from New York that plays basketball in the audience saying the same thing while watching me and my teammates celebrate that Big East title. It’s just something you dream about as a little kid growing up in New York playing the game of basketball.
CSZ: You were “hands on” with many of the fans here in Louisville and they still chat about you when talking Card basketball. How helpful is it to have a good fan base like CardNation on your road to success as a player?
Sosa: Having fans from Louisville that still follow is a great feeling. I have become close with so many people in Louisville that really care for me, and I’m happy to say that I still keep in touch with all of them whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or phone calls. I’m truly blessed for meeting a lot of the wonderful people I know today in Louisville. Louisville would always be my second home. It’s where I went to college, where I became a man, where I played great basketball. So much of the person I am today, I developed while spending those 4 years in Louisville.
CSZ: What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played in front of as a professional?
Sosa: As a professional the biggest crowd I played in front of was 24,000 at Rupp Arena when my national team (Dominican Republic) played against the Kentucky all-stars this past summer. In Italy crowds were about 10-15 thousand fans there. They love basketball but soccer is the main sport. I played in front of a great crowd but I was used to it because I played in front of 22,000 every night in Freedom Hall.
CSZ: Looking at our current Louisville team and everything that they may be going through, what advice would you give to our guys? What would you say to the fans?
Sosa: Looking at the team now, the thing I would tell them is to be confident and to listen and pay close attention to the scouting report. Coach Pitino has a reputation for knowing the opponents to the “T”. Coach Pitino is going to give you the answers to the test, he is going to show you how to defend your man, how to stop him, how to stop their best players and best plays, but Coach can’t score the ball for us. He’s going to put his teams in the best sets and situations to be successful on the offensive end, but at the end of the day our players have to be confident to make plays on both ends of the floor. Confidence!! I would tell the fans to ease up on the players, trust me we as players want to win every game and we want to do everything right and be the best we can, but when things don’t go according to plan it’s a little frustrating. If anything that’s when the players need their fans even more. When players are playing bad, they know it and trust me Coach Pitino will let you know about it. Don’t make the player feel worse by saying negative things about them, in fact built that player up so they can have a better game next game. Don’t beat a dead horse, there’s no point.
CSZ: What are some goals that you hope to reach as a basketball player as soon as you’re 100% healthy?
Sosa: My goals are just to continue to play and build on the level of basketball I was playing before I got hurt. I had a great year in Italy and really made a name for myself, not only in Italy but also in all of Europe, as one of the better young point guards and became the starting point guard of my national team in my first year with the team. As soon as I get back to 100% I would like to build on that and be the best player I possibly can become, even if that means playing in Europe my whole career or one day getting a shot in the NBA. Just going out there, playing some great basketball and continuing to get better each year is my goal.
CSZ: Are there any organizations(charity, community center, church etc.) that you help out in any way?
Sosa: I’m not involved with any Charity or Community Center but I am involved in a church which is called Calvary Temple Apostolic Church in New Castle, Ky. I was brought to the church through the Winburn family. They became my family while I was in Louisville. They introduced me to the church and helped to develop my faith in God. I always thank God for allowing me to meet the Winburn family because they helped bring me closer to God.
CSZ: If you were given a million dollars tomorrow and half was to be used for helping others, where would you start and who would you want to help most?
Sosa: If I had a million dollars and had to use half of it for something other than my family, I would help out younger kids, that don’t really have opportunities, to better their future. I would do that because I love kids and I would want to be, to younger kids, what so many older guys were to me. I want to be a role model and someone for kids to look up to that does things the right way in life.
CSZ: Very strong and very honest interview coming from a young man who won’t accept failure as an option. As you can see from the videos, pics and the passion in his interview responses, Edgar has come a long way since leaving the city of Louisville and the Cards. Cardinal Sports Zone would like to thank Edgar Sosa for taking time out of his busy rehab schedule to address some past issues and for speaking out to our current players about dealing with the pressures of playing at a top program such as the University of Louisville. Be on the look out for the second part of this story in the upcoming months. In the meantime follow Edgar Sosa on twitter: @Edgarsosa10.
Here is a video sequence of Edgar in his rehab process. Start at the bottom video (actually the 2nd one up from the bottom) and work your way up.