Fùtbol to soccer

Antonio Velasquez ‘18 kicks soccer dreams into high gear

Hector+Leal+%2719+and+Edgar+Garcia+%2718+blast+past+the+Juarez+defense+in+this+explosive+play

Hector Leal '19 and Edgar Garcia '18 blast past the Juarez defense in this explosive play

Boris Fedorov '18, School Editor

His teammate passes the ball into his line of sight, leaving just the goalie between him and another point. Kicking the ball into the back of the net, Jones’ own international soccer player, Antonio Velasquez ‘18, helped his team advance into the state playoffs.  

Born and raised in Mexico to a Colombian family, with stints in Texas and France, before moving to Chicago, Velasquez enrolled at Jones the summer going into his junior year.

Since then, his performance on the field has generated game winning goals and hat tricks; in fact, his athletic and leadership qualities led to his promotion as one of the team captains.

“Recently, through his play and dedication and his work ethic on the field, I appointed him as a third captain,” said Paul Zubb, the varsity coach for boys soccer. “He can basically put the team on his shoulders a little bit offensively and do a really nice job of trying to help when we’re looking for someone to step up.”

While the striker for Jones traveled the globe, he plans to pursue his college education in the United States while continuing to play the sport he loves.

“I am talking to New York University,” Velasquez said. “I’d rather go to college to get an education than to pursue soccer.”

Inspired by his father and practicing since he was given his first soccer ball, Velasquez played soccer almost his entire life. After living in Mexico for 11 years, he and his family moved to Dallas, Texas for one year due to his father’s job, then moved to France for four years, and arrived in Chicago in 2016.

“The one constant throughout all that is that I’ve always played soccer. I’ve played with my school, outside of school, just always,” Velasquez said. “Most of the friends I’ve made, I’ve done it through soccer.”

Velasquez’s friends are more than just teammates: he looks after them and they grow him into a better soccer player.

One of those teammates, a team captain for varsity men’s soccer, Andrew Villaseñor ‘18, said that Velasquez’s international experience reflects on the field.

“He’s really good at finding the back of the net,” said Villaseñor. “[The exposure] helped him in his development as a soccer player and it really shows how he plays now compared to the other players.”

Due to his early exposure to soccer and the way it has impacted his life, Velasquez believes sports, in general, are a really a good way in connecting people.  

He credits his performance on the field to his extensive training as a striker: with little no to time, he relies on instinct to score goals.

“I just don’t think,” Velasquez said. “It’s automatic.”

Though the language of soccer is universal, adapting into American culture is not.

“[Moving] can be traumatizing and it was really hard on me,” Velasquez said. “I’ve moved three times already. I’ve seen the bigger picture and I realized that as an adult you’re going to move a lot and become disconnected. I’ve learned that the hard way.”

But Velasquez integrated himself into American culture to benefit his life off the field and continues to utilize the advantages of his new home.

“That’s what makes me different than other immigrants,” said Velasquez. “[Many immigrants] stay in their own communities and they never really get completely integrated in their societies. Yes, that’s good, but at the same time you aren’t taking advantage of everything that is offered to them in the culture. I choose to change and adapt.”

The soccer player plans on spending the rest of his life in America and aspires to have a career in startups in his post-graduate future.