Please welcome, my good friend – Damian.
What You Need To Know
- Born in Poland.
- King of the no look pass on the soccer pitch.
- Also known as Papi.
- Likely a long distance relative of Jack Harlow.
Damian and I snagged time on a recent Sunday, after we had played 11v11 Men’s Soccer in 105 degree weather I might add – and dug deep on what makes Damian, Damian.
After the soccer game I went home to shower, change, and find a place to meet Damian to conduct our interview. Once I was ready to go, I receive a text from Damian that said.
“Dude, you wanna come over? I want to put you in the cockpit boi!”
I pause and think – cockpit? What’s he talking about? I’m the one doing the interviewing here!
I replied swiftly with a slight edge of hesitation – sure man, I’m on my way.
Once I arrived – Damian and I grabbed some of his prized Mezcal and he said “You ready bro? You gotta see this setup!” I was then ushered to the back of Damian’s house where he had a full PC racing setup – armed with a steering wheel, shifter, gas, brake, and clutch pedal.
Damian smirks with mischievous anticipation.
“Hop in dude!”
For the next 90 minutes, Damian and I drove all sorts of crazy cars around various tracks and enjoyed our Mezcal before we got into our interview. Cars and driving are a new hobby for Damian – which, as you’ll learn – is something he embraces. I tell this story because Damian is the type of person that when he is turned on to something – nothing will stop his obsession and interest – which ties perfectly into who he is as a human, a friend, a son, and a brother.
We dive in.
“I was born in Poland – ZB (Damian’s energetic, soccer playing father) had a Master’s Degree in Math and through his brother, he was able to come teach here in the states.” Damian explained. “He came here by himself for the first year of my life before being able to get visas to bring us over.”
One constant you’ll hear throughout this interview is Damian’s connection with his father, which – if you’ve met ZB, you know they are essentially the exact same person.
“He got a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and landed a job in Kansas to sponsor our continuing immigration process. While in line to get our green cards, 9/11 happened and threw a wrench in everything. We were in danger of being sent back to Poland, so my parents went personally to a senator in their district to get him to vouch for them – which ultimately, he did” Damian explained. “Unfortunately, ZB had to land a job elsewhere to continue the immigration sponsorship and he had to travel to work in different states – but always made it a point to come back before Friday to teach me programming at my school in extended study sessions. It really meant a lot to me then, but especially more so now.”
We pivot on coming to Austin.
“We moved around quite a few times growing up – and we had visited Austin a few times and ZB always talked so much about how he liked it and maybe we would settle here one day – We ended up in New Jersey for two years, then I moved to Chicago for a few month – then back to Kansas, culminating in me having gone to three different high schools. From there, I went to an engineering university in upstate New York for my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Computer Science – I worked a few software engineering jobs in NYC after graduating – but then COVID happened and it accelerated some things in my life, one of which being the desire to live in Austin.”
Like some of us, Damian moved during COVID – looking for a fresh start and a new chapter.
“Originally I moved here with my girlfriend during early June of 2020 – however, things didn’t work out with us, and she ended up moving back – but I knew the city was special and that I wanted to stay.” Damian describes. “My parents decided to finally move to Austin as well, which was awesome – and my sister recently transferred to Texas A&M – it’s great having the whole family here.”
We pivot to his time here in Austin.
“This city is so welcoming – It’s been so great playing soccer here again, especially with my Dad.”
Again? What do you mean?
“I had a knee condition called Hoffa’s Disease that sidelined me for most my time in NYC – I did PT and activity avoidance for years, but never found relief. When I moved to Austin, the problem literally disappeared – who knows, it could have been a stress thing from when I was in NYC – but it was night and day,” Damian describes, becoming more emotional talking about the sport he loves. “My first weekend here a friend asked to play indoor which I did – my cardio was trash and after 5 minutes I was spent, but it was amazing to be on the field and noticed that I wasn’t in pain – it was truly amazing.”
We continue to Sphere.
“I was at a house party, and someone randomly came up and asked if I played soccer – I think it must have been my killer haircut that tipped him off!” We both laugh. “He invited me to Sphere and I had a great time. I met some of our still-active veterans: Taki, Tanner, Natasha, Connor, Greg, and others and just felt so welcomed. Tanner hit me up right after and asked how I liked it and encouraged me to keep coming back and that led to me being asked if I wanted to be a captain and help coach.”
We pivot to his passions.
“I don’t have one set passion – I sort of operate with a breadth or shotgun approach. I like to be exposed to as many things as I can that I find valuable. I’ve always been a software engineer, but I’ve worked in in many distinct industries and product lines and love to expose myself to different frameworks and ways of thinking. I abide by the mantra ‘the more you do, the more you can do’. I take this same approach with my life and hobbies. There’re so many things to experience in this world, so much to do – I want to dive into all of them. But at my core – it’s Family, Fitness, and Soccer.”
Damian pauses before continuing.
“I think I appreciate all that my parents have gone through a bit more now – They grew up without a lot of luxuries that we take for granted: lived under strict Communist rule, in a village of 200 people, didn’t have plumbing at their homes – literally came from nothing. They fought tooth and nail so myself and my sister could have a better life here in the US, so we can continue that for our kids – I’m always trying to push myself to get the level of success that I can share with my current and future family – that’s what I’m truly passionate about.”
We close, in typical fashion – advice.
“It sounds a bit cheesy, but I’ve always followed the ‘just do it’ mantra. You can put so much overthinking into decisions or elements of your life – but until you actually walk the path, or make the choice – you won’t ever know. If I ever get into a rut – I just remind myself to just do it. I try my best not to frame things in the negative, only the positive. When reflecting on the choices and decisions I’ve made, I try to remember to frame them with the information I had at that time, then use it as a stepping-stone for future decisions and life choices.”
Before we end, I break routine and ask Damian about something I’ve been wondering since I met him.
What’s the deal with this obsession with Drake and Jack Harlow?!
We both laugh.
“I love them both bro! Not just because of the music they make, but I love how they both are just trying to do as much as they can. Drake has done various types of music styles – and just lines up a lot with how I try to embrace all that I can. Personality wise – I’m fairly extroverted – in high school I was sort of the guy acting a fool and the class clown and I take that energy and try to apply it to Sphere and just in general, the interactions I have with people.” Damian explains.
If you’ve been to a Sphere class – you know the energy Damian is talking about.
“I feel like when I’m running classes at Sphere – me being a bit ridiculous and outgoing will hopefully inspire others that it’s okay to come out their shell – and embrace the energy that’s out there for them to digest. It’s okay to be who you are, and you don’t have to worry about what other people think. I mean, look at the Hotline Bling music video – Drake knows people are going to make fun of him – but that’s the point!”
As we close and I leave – Damian gets his phone out to film me driving away and says “Floor it! I’m going to send a video to ZB!” – as I’m a big car guy and my car is a bit loud; I oblige and piss his neighbors off. As I drive home, I think back over the conversation we just had; it’s clear to me that my friend Damian is destined to do great things in the world – but more so, he’s destined to just be a good human, son, brother, and future family man – after all, that’s “God’s Plan” – right?