On the soccer field, Aaron Lopez feels at home. But he also knows where he really wants to be. He’s in his junior year at Momence High School, and when he’s not playing midfield for his school, he’s busy playing for other soccer clubs, like the Kankakee Club. It’s understandable that they’d very much want Aaron on their team. He’s captain of the Momence soccer team and, on the pitch, he’s a natural.
Captain of His Own Destiny
BY RAPHAEL MAURICE
Soccer is in his blood. He first started playing the sport at age five. His older brothers played, too, and Aaron looked up to them. Lopez, like any soccer fan, admires the skills of certain famous players, such as Messi. As a captain and midfielder for Momence, Aaron knows great playing when he sees it. And while the job of a midfielder is to get the ball moving forward toward the goal to score, it’s also a midfielder’s job to defend as well. It’s a constantly-moving position, and Aaron plans to keep pushing forward and looking backward at the same time. Midfield is the position for the conscientious athlete. While soccer takes brains and athletic toughness, there’s always the future to consider, too. Aaron’s no different in this way; rather, he thoughtfully considers what lies ahead.
When asked about potential occupations, the midfielder notes that he’s “not a cubicle guy” and he “needs to keep moving.” Perhaps his natural restlessness is a gift, to himself and to his team. He works at soccer through his own drills, running, exercises, through his own grit and drive. That’s what it takes to become a captain and a great midfielder. While he plans on going to college, and college might very well end up scouting him, Lopez is continuing to push himself and move forward. He’s interested in history classes at the moment, and considers coaching and teaching as future occupations. The world (and the team) would certainly benefit from someone like Aaron being at the helm of both ships.
His family moved here from Mexico. Lopez loves living in Momence, and describes it as “a nice little community where we all know each other.” His coach certainly knows him, too, and Lopez understands very well the role David Acevedo played and continues to play in this junior’s life. Coach Acevedo works with Aaron, and is a Spanish teacher as well. “He’s the right fit,” says Lopez, when asked about the impact his coach (and teacher) has had on him. And the star athlete admits that if classes and grades start to slide, soccer falls to the wayside. A player like Aaron Lopez deserves a gifted coach like Acevedo. Membership on a team is for a lifetime, and working together with the players and his coach has made Aaron Lopez into the young man he is today. Perhaps he’ll follow in his coach’s footsteps.
While Aaron himself is interested in coaching soccer and teaching one day, this may lead to leaving Momence for a time. But, he will always call this place home: “I really like this place. I just feel at home. I could see myself living here.” In his spare time, the bit he has, he practices shooting. And he admits to something we don’t typically think of when we think of star athletes. When asked about advice he would give himself about his role in the world, he humbly states, “I used to be shy. Like, extremely shy. But I just think, be yourself, and don’t worry what others think about you.” That’s sage advice coming from a junior in high school. And it lets us into Aaron’s world. Even though he’s the star of the soccer team, he’s capable of facing his shyness, on and off the pitch, and conquering it. That’s a win, too.