Entering the transfer portal is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.
But within 24 hours, Pitt transfer Nyk Sessock checked his email and got one that captured his attention.
“I went in the portal and within the first day, Indiana came right up in my emails,” Sessock said. “Right away, I was sold. I really was.”
The 5-foot-7 defender made the difficult decision to leave the Panthers after two seasons in search of something more, in spite of a positive experience.
“I was very thankful for everything they did for me as an individual, but I felt I needed to change because there were aspects of my game that could be used more,” Sessock said. “I want to be a pro, and I felt like a change was due in my life.
“I had a good relationship with the coaches, great teammates and it was a great school, but at the end of the day you think about a lot of stuff and for me I knew this was what I wanted to do and felt I was stationary with my development. I told them, ‘Nothing against anyone here or what you do here, but it’s a time for a change for me. I want to chase national championships.’”
That mindset made Indiana a no-brainer when the opportunity arose — Sessock committed on March 26 — especially given the Hoosiers were in search of a right back to plug the hole left by the departure of Evansville grad transfer Simon Waever.
“Right away it was a done deal in my mind, but what further solidified my decision was the relationship with the coaches on the phone call,” Sessock said. “You could tell there was a connection that I knew I was going to be safe, be taken care of, be given everything I can be given to be the best I can be in the sport.”
The Philadelphia native also had a sort of personal connection with one-time IU recruit Brenden Aaronson, who never made it to Bloomington, instead signing a contract out of high school with the hometown Philadelphia Union of MLS, for which he made 30 appearances and scored three goals as a rookie in 2019.
“Brenden was supposed to go (to Indiana) and all he did was talk real highly of Indiana’s program and he’s a top-class player,” Sessock said. “Top guys are going there, so I knew they must think a lot of me to put in the effort to reach out.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Sessock had a personal experience in the last year’s season opener when Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead at Armstrong Stadium only to see the Hoosiers rally for a 3-2 overtime victory.
“Another thing that had me gravitate toward IU was that unity,” he said. “When we played them, we’re up 2-0 and in a comfortable but not too comfortable spot, and a top program like that isn’t backing down from anything. They came back and won the game and you saw their guys come together. I want to be a part of a winning team like that and chase championships.”
Individually, Sessock will have the opportunity to display more of his versatility with the Hoosiers. A wing midfielder in his younger days, he still relishes the opportunity to get involved in the attack, which he did as a Philadelphia Union Academy player. After accumulating just one goal and two assists in two seasons at Pitt, Indiana offers him a chance to do something different.
“Getting forward,” he said. “The college game is different and coaches like different formations and work them other ways, but I felt like I was being held back a little bit. I had the engine to get up and down the lines and love attacking. I felt like I was getting stuck back there (defensively) and want to be free. (The Hoosiers) are all in for that.”
The next step for Sessock is to get to know his new teammates, although when that will be is uncertain. The only current Hoosier he knows is Victor Bezerra. The two played together with the U15 U.S. national team four and a half years ago.
Beyond that, Sessock isn’t completely sure what he’s going to get, but so far, so good.