With a father from South America and grandparents from Spain, you would think that I was brought up from birth with a soccer ball. That was not the case, however. My family did not want to force their national sport on me in the U.S. where soccer is just not like it is in Europe or South America. So at 8 years old, I was playing the U.S. national sport of tackle football. I was on the small side, but I was tough and started for both the offensive and defensive line while my father watched completely confused by this strange sport that he calls “egg ball”.
Soccer was actually introduced to me when I was 10 years old by my neighbor who had three sons who all played soccer. I had been playing with them at our neighborhood park without my parents’ knowledge. Then one afternoon, the neighbor said he wanted to talk to my parents. When he finally did, he told them that I was really talented at soccer and should get signed up for a club. My parents were, of course, in shock. “He doesn’t play soccer, “ they said. Two weeks later I was signed up for my first soccer team, a recreational team. Game after game I scored 5, 8, sometimes 10 goals, and it was clear that I needed a more competitive team. From there, the club madness began!
To date, I have played for three different clubs and have learned valuable things from each one. My parents, however, have a difficult time with what they call “the club drama”, so right now I play on a club that just started out last year, the Arizona Scorpions. Although we may not be that competitive yet, we feel it’s a good club because the coaches genuinely care about the sport and the players, there’s no “club drama”, and it’s close to home. I have also had the opportunity to attend soccer camps in my father’s native country of Venezuela when we have visited in the summers. That was a totally different experience as they do not even allow parents at the practices!
As far as school teams go, I played soccer for my middle school, Sossaman Middle School, both 7th and 8th grade, attacking midfielder. In 8th grade I was the top scorer and received the “Spartan Strong” Award for my positive attitude and dedication to the sport. In addition, because of my attitude, I was asked to be the Manager of the girls’ soccer teams and did this on a volunteer basis. I now attend Higley High School. My freshman year I played on the JV team starting as an attacking midfielder and playing the entire game.
Soccer is my life. If I’m not playing with one of my teams, I’m practicing at the park, or I’m playing the FIFA video game. I am one of the few players on my teams that watches every pro soccer game. The summer the World Cup was in South Africa, my mom and I watched EVERY game! When the World Cup was in Brazil, I was in Venezuela and that was awesome to experience watching the games in South America where EVERYONE watches them. My coaches will tell you that I have great knowledge of the game, and that I am coachable with a good attitude, leadership skills and dedication. My goal is to attend college to study fire science or education, but my dream is to play soccer in college! And I’m willing to do the work to make that happen.
I’m not going to lie--I have a good life. My dad is an immigrant from Venezuela and my mother is the daughter of immigrants from Spain. Because of this, I have had the privilege of learning Spanish and travelling to many Spanish-speaking countries. My parents also have a strong belief in giving back, so I was taught that volunteering was one of the best way to give back. Since 7th grade I have been volunteering for Shun the Sun Foundation. This is a non-profit whose mission is skin cancer prevention and education. I have volunteered as part of their street promo crew promoting their cause and their fundraising events. Then at the actual events, I help with all the setup and takedown. Their main events are a half marathon and a 5k , but I’ve also helped at a charity concert, a charity bowling event, and whatever else they may plan. In 8th grade, as mentioned, I volunteered as the girls’ soccer manager. My sophomore year I joined my high school’s Sports Medicine Club, so I will also be volunteering with them at sporting events.
Again, I have a good life and I am thankful for that, but in 2016 our world was rocked when my grandfather who took care of me as a child while my parents worked, got Alzheimer’s. He was 97 when it hit the late stages. I mention this because it is a big part of my life and who I am. I am the only one in our family that my grandfather remembers by name. I spend every Sunday with him helping him do simple tasks, making him laugh or just giving my grandmother a break. When school is not in session, I try to go over even more. At first it was a shock seeing him start to forget everything. It was and still is scary, but I feel that I am learning a lot from this about life, about death, about family. Probably the saddest part for me is that he can’t come see me play soccer anymore.
In closing, everyone wants to be a Messi or Ronaldo--I just want to play soccer. I will work hard to make this happen. I have my family’s support. All I need is the opportunity. Thank you for your time and consideration.