By Dean Caparaz ’90
Omid Jalali is doing double duty to secure his future beyond the pitch.
The 5-9 midfielder/forward is a key reserve – and occasional starter – on the national powerhouse Cal men’s soccer team. He earned the first start of his college career at Oregon State on Nov. 8, scoring twice in a 3-0 victory.
Like many college soccer players, Jalali hopes to play at the professional level. But if that doesn’t happen, the junior from Irvine, Calif., is making sure he is fully prepared for a career after he graduates.
The busy Bear is majoring in business administration and a pre-med student. The industrious Jalali earned a coveted spot on the Pac-12 All-Academic first team as a sophomore in 2012. In the fall of 2013, he carried the team’s top grade-point average at 3.85 and claimed a berth on the Capital One All-Academic District 8 first team.
“Coming out of high school he was practically a straight-A student, and his SAT scores were extremely high,” head coach Kevin Grimes said. “Since he’s been at Cal, he’s had almost straight As all the way through, and he’s also done well to earn admission to the Haas School of Business.”
Jalali’s grandfather was a doctor, and he has a cousin pursuing medicine as a collegian in Houston. But the Bear has his own reasons for being pre-med.
“What really prompted to me to try to go into medicine was to gain the opportunity to help people and have ambition in my work,” Jalali said. “Having the opportunity to make a good living while being able to give to others were the main things that attracted me to medicine.”
Jalali needed to find an undergraduate degree to go along with his pre-med studies, and the aspiring plastic surgeon decided that a business degree would help realize his dreams of starting a private practice. Jalali saw the business side of the medical field firsthand when he worked for a pair of plastic surgeons at a private practice last summer.
Jalali has witnessed his mentors perform about 20 surgeries. In the future he hopes to travel with them as they perform reconstructive surgeries for disadvantaged youth around the world.
“They go on missions, over a 100 so far, in Third World countries and do reconstructive surgeries on burn victims, kids with cleft palates,” Jalali said. “They do these surgeries for $250; normally these types of surgeries cost $10,000.”
He could have gone on such a trip to India last summer, but instead devoted part of his summer to training with his teammates in Berkeley. The squad’s devotion has paid off in a strong season, including earning the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history for much of the fall.
After spending his first two years at Cal out of the postseason, Jalali has enjoyed the success. With one more year to go, Jalali would love his on-field success to spur a pro career. But the pragmatic Bear is ready for whatever life throws him.
“If the opportunity comes around, I’ll definitely consider it because it’s always been my dream,” he said. “But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had new dreams as well.”