By By Dean Bibens • 10/28/2021 4:17 PM EST
The Haddam-Killingworth boys’ football team are performing at their best as Jayden Zaitoun pushes the pitch forward in attack. Jayden is a senior captain who plays at the Cougars left-back position.
Head coach Mike Mead considers Jayden to be one of the fastest players in the Shoreline Conference. Coach Mead realizes the importance of the speedster’s presence on the team as the Cougars approach the playoffs.
“Jayden usually plays left-back for us, but we’re doing our best to get him forward. It’s usually when we play our best. He’s a real workaholic going up and down the pitch throughout the game, ”said Mead. “This year Jayden has really brought a lot of passion and energy that the rest of the team feeds. Without it, I think we’d find ourselves in a completely different position than we find ourselves in now – and that’s a blow to the States and a conference title.
Jayden started playing football at the age of nine. Jayden credits his father Ashraf for nurturing his deep passion for the sport.
“My dad used to play soccer, and he sure got me hooked,” Jayden says. “Whenever we talked about football he always told me stories about playing in Egypt throughout his childhood years there.”
Another important aspect of his progress is Jayden’s relationship with Coach Mead. Mead’s constant support for Jayden lifted him to new heights as a football player.
“My coach really encouraged me to work hard and helped me build my confidence throughout my high school years,” Jayden said. “He gives me great constructive criticism, and so I’m still developing my sense of the game and my knowledge.”
HK finished their regular season with a 7-8-1 record this year. With the playoffs on the horizon, Jayden believes the Cougars are well prepared to defend their Shoreline Conference title.
“This year we’re trying to get a good shot at the Shoreline tournament,” Jayden said. “I think we’ve improved a lot since the start of the season and although it was bumpy at times, our team chemistry has improved a lot and we’ve learned to play with our strengths.”
Jayden works tirelessly to improve his game in training and also on his own during the offseason. Jayden is his own biggest critic because he always wants to stand out for his club.
“I work on my weak touch during workouts,” says Jayden. “Whenever I can, I juggle and use my non-dominant foot while training to make it stronger.”
In addition to his athletic endeavors, Jayden works hard to be successful in his studies in HK. Jayden is very successful at balancing his responsibilities both on the pitch and in the classroom.
“I put a lot of effort into my studies because I’m passionate about engineering and want to go to a good university,” Jayden. “I also enjoy doing outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and playing Ultimate Frisbee with a group during the summer. Besides soccer, I also play basketball and golf at school, but I play it a lot more casually than soccer.