For Victor Lopez, he is using his skills both on the soccer field and in the classroom to wrap up his time at Mission Bay High. A defender, Lopez has also been used by head coach Joe Panian up front as a forward when needed.
“He has provided much needed leadership/stability in the back,” Panian said. “Victor is a great player who can read the game well, intercepting passes and making tackles on the ball. He also is a complete player who can also play as a forward for the team.
“Victor has scored and assisted on important goals for the team this year. When the team needs a goal, I put him up front to provide for us,” Panian said. “And time after time he has come through. But we need him for his leadership and ability in the back and because he is such a selfless player he plays center back with no complaints. Victor is the consummate team player.”
The team captain, Lopez has provided vital communication during the game; giving direction and encouraging teammates, according to Panian.
“He leads by example, training extra, showing up to practice early, last to leave,” Panian said. “Victor is super respectful to the coaching staff and helps out in a variety of capacities without being asked.”
Along with his talents on the field, Lopez is no slouch in the classroom.
Currently taking IB Spanish and IB history, he has an A and a B, respectively, in these extremely rigorous courses. He currently has an overall 4.0 GPA.
Beach & Bay Press recently caught up with Lopez for an email Q&A on how the season is going and more.
B&BP: How did you get involved playing soccer and what do you enjoy most about it?
Lopez: I started playing soccer when I was 8 at a typical Sunday league team, but I have always had a love for the sport because of my dad. In my family, soccer is something that has always joined us together, from going to kick the ball around to just sitting around and watching games.
The thing I enjoy most about soccer is the environment that surrounds it. I feel like soccer is a getaway from all my problems, a place that brings me peace and calmness. It always sounds like an exaggeration when people say that playing a sport saved their life, but it is true. Soccer took me out of the trouble of growing up in the ghetto. It allowed me to meet friends who I can happily call my brothers, and it taught me to be responsible and a hard worker, which are qualities that have improved me as a person and helped me in my life in many ways.
B&BP: As a senior on the team, what do you try to bring to the younger kids playing with you?
Lopez: I try to bring the values in which my parents brought to me. Both of my parents are immigrants who came to the country in order to prosper and open up the chance for a better future for our family's future generations. Some of those values include hard work, being open-minded, and commitment. I like to lead by example and I know it rubbed off on the younger kids because everyone is putting in extra work after practice, on days off, in the weight room, etc. We have been able to create a positive environment as a team.
B&BP: What were your goals coming into this season both for the team and you in your final year on the team?
Lopez: As a team one of our main goals was making playoffs. Although our season didn't go as well as we would of wanted, it worked to motivate us for this season. It was a big reality check for everyone on the team, and coming into this season no one on the team wanted to go through that again. For me, I want to demonstrate that hard work is rewarding. Also, I want to make sure that we can build a good soccer program here at the school that will continue for years to come. I am confident that we have continued to do this, but the coaches have also contributed greatly to this effort as well.
B&BP: For any kids thinking about coming out for the team down the road, what advice would you have for them?
Lopez: The best advice I could give them is to put in the hard work for their team and always try to improve their skills outside of practice. A coach, and even your teammates, notice when hard work is being done, and that allows for more opportunities to open. No one will want to help someone who is not fully committed to their craft.
Also, always look for help because all coaches are willing to help you improve, but some people are just too conceited and proud. To add on, they need to learn how to be patient with their teammates, because in high school soccer not everyone is at the same talent level, so you have to push yourself and the rest of team if you want to improve.
B&BP: Are you looking at playing soccer in college?
Lopez: Of course I would enjoy playing soccer in college. Improving is always a necessity for me and playing at a higher level would facilitate that goal by putting me in an environment where everyone is competing. Playing college soccer would allow me to continue playing the sport I love. I am sure it is not easy, but I know I am willing to put in the work to achieve that goal.
Editor’s note: If you know of a MBHS winter sports athlete who would make a good feature story, please email: [email protected]