School is back in session and that means sports is back in full swing. Follow John DiTirro as he reports for the Examiner and interviews high school athletes as they talk about their favorite sport. We start the season off with an amazing athlete from the Pomona High School soccer team in Arvada, Colorado.
Zaylen Huerta is a competitive athlete who has graced the soccer field with his talent to play a game where you can only use your feet. The game of soccer is catching on more and more each year and will hopefully become recognized on an equal playing field of football, basketball and baseball. Soccer is the favorite sport in the European countries and continues to grow in the United States. Children are finding success as they participate in this fast paced game where the players are constantly running for anywhere from 15 minute half’s to 45 minutes or longer depending on the age group and what the judges’ rule as extended play time at the end of each half. Soccer conditions the body to have more endurance than other sports. This does not take away the conditioning for football or basketball or even baseball. But in those games, the players run sprints and are conditioned for less play time. These are games where you can use your entire body to juke a player. You don’t have that option in soccer. You rely on your feet to tell the story and hopefully the opposing team cannot read that book.
You look at the benches and you will see more substitutions than soccer. Soccer players whether male or female are conditioned to run longer and yes they have to sprint across the playing field as well. But they have to do it controlling a ball with their feet.
Zaylen Huerta is a leader on the field and is always helping his teammates be in the proper position to receive the pass or score. He loves to score just like any other player, but he is not selfish in that respect either. If another player has a better position to put the ball in the net, he will find that player.
The Examiner sat down with Varsity soccer player Zaylen Huerta on Saturday August 22nd and had the opportunity to interview this man who plays for Pomona High School soccer team in Arvada, Colorado and is being scouted by different colleges. Zaylen Huerta is a competitor on the field but is a role model for anyone to look up to off the field. He has manners that you can tell were instilled in him as a young child. And he is never afraid to go the extra mile to help out anyone.
The following was our interview with Zaylen on Saturday, August 22, 2015.
John DiTirro: At what age did you start playing soccer?
Zaylen Huerta: 3 years old for recreational team in Thornton. The team was called the Explosions. I remember the first time I kicked a soccer ball and the sound it made, I wanted to play this game forever.
JD: Do you remember at what age you started playing competitive?
ZH: I was 10 and I played for a team with Westminster.
JD: What position do you play for Pomona High School soccer team and have you played other positions?
ZH: I currently play fullback – a defensive position. I have played every position with Pomona including keeper or goalie. I started out as a keeper until they found out that I was a better forward and they pulled me out of the goal and put me more in the game.
JD: What is your favorite position?
ZH: My favorite would have to be a mid-fielder because you get ball more. I loves being where the ball is and having it in control.
JD: When did you start playing for the varsity team with Pomona?
ZH: I was a sophomore. My freshman year, I was a reserve on the varsity team. I came into high school playing on the Junior Varsity team and started to play varsity as a swing player. Meaning I was on the JV roster officially as a freshman but swung up to the varsity as a freshman. I suited up for the varsity games and at times played the JV game and then had to play another game back-to-back on varsity. I was listed the reserves team as a freshman for the varsity. It was during my freshman year that I played both forward and center mid. I noticed my speed and agility quickly advanced and no matter who we were against, I was confident of the outcome.
JD: Are you one of the captains for Pomona High School soccer team?
ZH: Yes we have a total of 3. In fact, I was the youngest captain that Pomona High School soccer team has had in the school’s history.
JD: You said you have colleges looking at you, who are they and have they spoke to you about any type of scholarship yet?
ZH: Adams State in Colorado, Barkley College in Kansas and Sterling College in Kansas. I have been informed that scouts will be watching me throughout my senior year. So this year should prove to be very exciting and l hope I am chosen by any of the colleges. At this time though, I do not have a favorite. I will be blessed with whichever team I end up with.
JD: How did you feel when the US Women’s team brought home the World Cup?
ZH: I knew it would end up as Japan and USA. In fact, I let people know going into the FIFA challenge. I was speechless and very excited to see the final outcome. Women do not get the respect they deserve in this game because they play on turf and it is harder on the bodies. The ladies do play club for different teams across the United States and the scouting for this year’s FIFA could not have done a better job. And with this win, maybe the ladies will get the proper respect they deserve. With winning 3 World Cups, shows they are the best of the best. Maybe they can start playing on grass and not turf and avoid less injuries. But the world has to take note that these ladies are tough and they are conditioned to play. The men have won a gold but never a World Cup. And yet they are the ones who get paid the high dollars and are playing in better conditions.
JD: Is there any player in the sport of soccer that you idolize and maybe have studied their footwork?
ZH: Angel Di Maria with Manchester United. He can really play and his footwork is amazing.
JD: What has been the largest accomplishment you have achieved so far with playing soccer?
ZH: I received an email to try out for the ODP program – the Olympic Development program. He was the only one on his club that got invited. In fact, the ODP only looks at the top 30 to come and try out. With just three days to get ready, there was a lot of pressure and Zaylen knew this would be a lot of work. Unfortunately, Zaylen did not make the team. But this motivated the young athlete to work harder and show the soccer world that he deserved to be there. Zaylen worked extra hard and was always early for practice and one of the last ones to leave the field. But it did prove one thing in high school, Zaylen is now considered one of the top 30 in the state of Colorado.
JD: Final question. Does anyone else in your family play soccer and did they have an influence on you picking this sport?
ZH: No one has played with exception of an older sister. His parents signed him and his sister up for soccer at a young age just for some fun and to do something active. She played two years and I loved it so much, I told my parents “I want to play as much as possible.”
Zaylen Huerta could not end the interview there though. Zaylen Huerta has to give praise to his family for being supportive. His family has been a huge influence in watching him play. They have lived through the celebrations of watching him score, watching him have an open shot and miss the easy kick. The times that they his team has suffered a loss and his family was there to support him and bring him back to reality that this is a game and you will have losses at times and you will have to learn from them and move on. Being a parent of any athlete is not easy. You sacrifice your hours to get the children to practice, the games, and the banquets. The parents sit through all types of weather and his do not complain at all. They are there through it all. He has learned a lot from his parents and the biggest is to have respect for anything you do in life. Accomplishments will help define who you are and where you go in life. And every time Zaylen Huerta takes the field, he plays that day’s game with a purpose. That purpose is to show his parents he is giving back respect for them taking their time away to take him to all games, practice and being in all types of conditions. He wants them to know how much he appreciates them and the love they have shown him in life and in soccer