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Note – For the rest of the semester we will be profiling our seniors who will be leaving the Academy later this year.
Three years ago, players from all over the US formed the first teams as members of the Grande Sports Academy. One of those players, Jose “Bean” Vasquez, has come to embody the type of player the Grande Sports Academy looks for in future recruits. Vasquez, now a senior and set to graduate from High School in May, 2013, is starting to prepare for the next chapter in his life without thinking too much about leaving the place he has called home since 2010.
“I try not to dwell on it. It will be sad because I came here with my teammates from back home. Four of us came here together and we have been here the whole 3 years. It will be sad going to all different parts of the country. The relationships I have built here with the coaches and players, it is going to be tough but I’m definitely excited to go on and play college soccer.”
At 5′ 6″, 135 pounds, Vasquez isn’t the biggest player on the field but that hasn’t stopped colleges from asking about him. Coaches at the Academy have praised him for his hard work ethic, great attitude and a willingness to always try to get better. He also plays an important position within the team’s formation, anchoring the midfield as a number 6 (central defensive midfielder).
As a player on the field he works hard to connect with other players and does an outstanding job distributing the ball. However for all the positive things he does on the field his smaller size has been the one element missing from Vasquez’s game. He understands that even though some college coaches have even asking about his technical skills, others have been afraid due to his lack of “pure” physicality. To counter this Vasquez explained how he has to “do the dirty work and take the hits. Definitely have to use my head. I have to be smarter, work harder, and out run the opposing team. Just overall just try to be a better player.”
Coaches at the Academy have noticed this as well. Assistant coach Tony Bruce praised Vasquez for his play saying, “He does a lot of things for a little guy. He has a good bite, and wins the ball. He plays bigger than what he is.”
When listening to Vasquez speak it is clear he is already years ahead in maturity. For a player who has come to understand his own limitations on the field, Vasquez credits the Academy for helping him become a better person in every aspect in life.
“We have study hall here but I have to make myself do homework and my parents aren’t here to tell me that I have to. School wise it has been the best thing for me and being more responsible without living with my parents. Make sure I go to school early so I can be ready for the day and do laundry and take care of business at school. These things have helped me so far.”
When he first arrived at the Academy Vasquez will admit that things were a bit of a culture shock. But he understood that to play soccer at the next level he had to leave his hometown of Lás Cruces, New Mexico.
“There wasn’t any other option in my town to succeed. I wouldn’t have had been able to go to college to play soccer if I stayed where I was at.”
With that leap of faith Vasquez now looks back on the last few years with fond memories. Enjoying how all the players here have become another family for him.
On February 6th, players from all over the country will be putting pen to paper when it comes to their college choices. When asked about that day and what it will be like to play college Vasquez turns and gives a big smile and says “I want to play pro, but my goal first is to get into college so I can get a degree.”