Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
The Boys From Little Mexico: Chasing The American Dream
by Steve Wilson, March 12th, 2010 12:28PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  youth boys

MOST COMMENTED

By Steve Wilson

Back in Mexico, Octavio's father had recognized his skill at school from an early age, and had pushed him to do well. When they debated whether he should join F.C. Atlas, his father told him that if he didn't play soccer, he should stay in Irapuato and go to high school, maybe even college.

Ocatvio said to him, “Okay, I’ll do it. I want to do it. But how are you going to pay for it?”

“I can sell this tractor,” his father said. “I can sell acres of land.”

The offer broke Octavio’s heart. His father couldn’t sell the tractor, couldn’t sell their land. There were six other kids, there were his cousins and grandparents. All of those people would suffer, would have to get along with less just so that he could have more schooling? He told his father no, he couldn’t do it that way.

Now, in America, with the chance for Octavio to get an education, his father was torn between his son’s future and the family’s loss. Uncle Ricardo worked on Octavio’s father, making the same arguments that he had made to Octavio himself, knowing the father’s desire for his son to be a success. Reluctantly, his father agreed that Ricardo’s argument made sense.

One day in August, Octavio’s uncle and aunt came into the house and made an announcement: they had signed Octavio up at Woodburn High School. Unless he made efforts otherwise, he was going to school in America.

Then, almost as an afterthought, Ricardo said, “I also signed you up for the soccer team.”

“They have a soccer team?” Octavio asked, intrigued.

“Yes, they’re very good.”

That was enough. He decided to stay. Octavio followed his cousin Everardo to the fields behind the school, where he saw a beautiful emerald pitch towered over by enormous lights. The field reminded him of the ones he had played on with Club Atlas, the perfect fields at college stadiums or the impeccable short stiff grass in the professional stadium in Irapuato, grass as fine and polished as a silk shirt. The field at Woodburn wasn’t as nice as that in Estadio Jalisco stadium, but as soon as he saw it, he knew that a field that nice could only exist at a school that truly cared for soccer.

On the field about 70 other boys were milling around, talking and joking, their eyes on the coaches. With Everardo translating, Octavio went through the tryouts: distance running, sprints, lots of scrimmaging. At first it was awkward. He hadn’t brought cleats from Mexico and he kept falling down. He had to borrow cleats to come back the next day. “I didn’t know anything about varsity or JV,” he said later. “So when the tryouts finished they said, ‘You’re playing varsity’ and I said, ‘Varsity? JV? JV2? What does that mean?’”

After his cousin had explained to him the breakdown of levels -- varsity first, junior varsity second, JV2 third, and freshman for freshmen -- Octavio still wasn’t sure what it signified that he, a freshman, was to play on the varsity squad.

“So I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ and they said, ‘You play good!’”

Back home on the farm, Octavio saw his future roll out in front of him like a red carpet. He would stay in the U.S., play soccer, get a scholarship to a college, and get a degree. He would be an architect or a teacher. Skill on the soccer field would bring him all those things his family had never had. He would change his life, set it on a new road, and bring his family along with him.

Excerpted from "The Boys From Little Mexico: A Season Chasing The American Dream," by Steve Wilson. Published by Beacon Press. Copyright (c) 2010. For more information on the book, visit www.boysfromlittlemexico.com.


(Steve Wilson, the author of "The Boys From Little Mexico: A Season Chasing The American Dream," lives with his family in Portland, Ore., and teaches at Portland State University.)



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
License-mania -- aggrandizing the coach in a player's game    
It's not easy to become a USSF-licensed elite soccer coach. Indeed, it's tougher to become a ...
Dutchman completes U.S. Soccer's slate of coaches on boys side     
U.S. Soccer has appointed Dave van den Bergh, who came to the USA from his native ...
Youth soccer factions united in frustration with U.S. Soccer Federation    
The USA has so many organizations involved in youth soccer the term "turf war" often comes ...
Girls vs. Boys: U.S. Soccer's Development Academy dilemma    
Generalizing about genders is a precarious venture, especially when one side is making assumptions about the ...
France routs USA at U-19 tourney    
After opening the Copa del Atlantico tournament in the Canary Islands with a 1-0 loss to ...
U.S. Soccer Development Academy adds 56 clubs for U-12 division     
Fifty-six clubs will join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy at the U-12 level, which the DA ...
Birth-year registration: The transition is upon us    
Will my child be changing teams? Will she be playing "up" if she stays with her ...
Three 14-year-olds picked for U.S. quest to reach U-17 Women's World Cup    
Seven Californians were named by Coach B.J. Snow to the USA's 20-player roster for the 2016 ...
Reffing in foreign languages: Even a few words can make a difference    
Unfortunately, English is the only language that I speak fluently. Immigration from Spanish-speaking countries has grown ...
U.S. Soccer's slate of coaches on boys side almost complete    
Shaun Tsakiris, previously U.S. Soccer Development Academy coach at Northern California club De Anza Force, has ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives