Eric Klenofsky just recently finished his senior year at Monmouth University and without a moment's rest, was on trial for Everton. Klenofsky joins the site's player journal section where he'll be giving us an update on his career once every other month. This month, Klenofsky elaborates on what makes Monmouth unique and how he ended up training with Everton.
For anyone that’s followed you, you’re obviously a big supporter of your school, Monmouth University. What about Monmouth makes it a great school?
I think my affinity for Monmouth runs much deeper than the school itself. Loyalty is very important to me in all aspects of my life, not just with Monmouth. Supporting what makes me, me, has always been the way I’ve done it from a very young age. For example, I could have played in the US Development Academy when I was younger but I chose not to. I started playing with TSF Academy at eleven years old and I played for them every single year all the way up to the U23 level. Same goes for my high school. I went to a private school named DePaul Catholic and I could have transferred, I could’ve gone to a few other schools but I’m loyal to the people who believe in me and support me and that will never change. If you support me and genuinely care for my well-being I’ll never turn my back on you. That’s why I stayed at TSF, DePaul and Monmouth. All three of those institutions were full of immensely knowledgeable people and they all provided me with resources that could get me to the next step in my life, but more than anything they were full of people who cared about me. And that genuine care is something I value and one of the reasons I love Monmouth so much. The campus is beautiful. The facilities are great. I had everything I could ever want in that school, but it’s the people. It’s the people that make the difference for me.
I was committed to Southern Methodist University from April of my junior year to the spring of my senior year and a day before signing day it all fell apart. But I want to be clear: there is no malice when I say that. What is meant to be will be and the coaching staff was just doing what they felt was best for them to keep their jobs and I have no grudges or anything like that for the decisions they made. That being said, the Monmouth coaching staff had nothing but belief in me. They gave me an opportunity and went to bat for me when many others looked away and they’ve done that time and time again throughout my whole college career. People like that are what makes Monmouth, Monmouth; a small division one school that does it the right way and will gladly punch above its weight whenever asked. And if you cut me open I’d happily bleed Monmouth blue.
Monmouth isn’t in the typical powerhouse conferences when it comes to national exposure. Now you’re getting a lot of buzz from not only training at Everton but also the MLS draft coming up here in January. How has the school responded with you moving on to the pro game?
Like I said before Monmouth is full of people who genuinely care about my well-being, whether the support is coming from our Athletic Director Dr. McNeil or the student body or even the Student Center workers. (Shout-out to my man AJ!) The support I’ve gotten from the Monmouth community is unprecedented and I can’t put into words how grateful I am for that. I’ve definitely gotten a good amount of "remember me" texts, which are pretty funny for me because like I said, I’ll never turn away or cut someone off that has my best interests at heart.
I think the story that sticks out in my head that just really epitomizes the Monmouth community comes from the day after we lost at Siena. After I lost my last ever collegiate game, after one of my hardest seasons ever both emotionally and physically, I wrote down my thoughts and tried to pay some sort of tribute to Monmouth and I tweeted and posted on Facebook what I had written. I poured everything I had into those couple paragraphs in an attempt to show my gratitude to Monmouth and I think everyone that read it immediately understood how much I cared for my school. So I posted it that night and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to a ridiculous amount of notifications between both accounts. My phone continued to vibrate all day long with nothing but love and support. But that is not what makes Monmouth different and that is not what makes this story so important. With my hood up and my head down, I walked through campus that day still trying to get over the realization that my college career was over. I heard a voice coming from my right side yelling my name, about twenty yards away. I picked my head up and saw one of the groundskeepers raking leaves looking up at me, someone I had never seen before in my life. He walked over and told me how much he liked what I wrote last night and congratulated me on a great career. That’s the kind of thing that makes Monmouth, Monmouth. It’s a family, and I’m so thankful I got the chance to spend four years in West Long Branch.
Tell us a little bit about the journey to England. How does a goalkeeper go from New Jersey to training with Everton?
The story of how I got to England really just screams 2016 all over it. For starters, thank God for social media. I got to Everton through a Facebook instant message from a man named Guil Salgado. While I was playing for the New York Red Bulls U23s he explained how he saw me play, searched my name, found all my videos on youtube, then did the same search on Facebook, found my profile and sent me a message. He said he thought I was good enough and that he was going to send my videos to a few clubs in Europe. Initially when someone random on Facebook starts throwing around names like Everton and a few other big clubs the natural reaction is to be skeptical, as I was, until I got an email from the Everton U23s Goalkeeper coach Andy Fairman. I remember looking at my phone with one of my teammates and saying something like “this has to be some kind of joke”. As we now know, it wasn’t a joke. I talked with Andy on and off throughout the next couple months until the trial was set and everything was in order.