By HALO KWOK
The crowd is silent. With nothing but thoughts of success filling her mind, senior Ariana Cisneros Botello gracefully advances towards the soccer goal. Time is ticking— there are only a couple seconds left. The ball slams into the net. Then, the crowd goes wild.
Throughout her four-year tenure at Wilson, Ariana ensured that she got the best out of her high school experience. As a part of the Spanish Honor Society, Team Up for St. Jude and varsity soccer team, there is nothing that she cannot do.
When she was just 3-years-old, Botello became engrossed with soccer due to the unique lifestyle that came alongside it.
“I started playing soccer at the age of 3 and have always loved the dynamic of the sport,” Cisneros Botello said. “As a child, I enjoyed trying new things, and soccer managed to [remain] as a big part of me throughout the years.”
Club teams played a big role in her life, as joining them continued to fuel her passion for soccer.
“Before high school started, I started playing for club teams which ignited a spark within me,” Cisneros Botello said. Prior to that [eye-opening] experience, I only played soccer for fun. Currently, I am on the FC Golden State club team and am glad that I gave it a shot.”
Furthermore, Botello made it into the school’s varsity soccer team as a freshman after she started to play the sport more competitively, learning a lot along the way.
“Joining our school’s varsity team [during] my freshman year allowed me to see that I was capable of competing with those who were older than me," Cisneros Botello said. "This was only possible since I began to take soccer more seriously, which [exposed me] to the [beauty of ] the soccer world.”
As a way to improve at soccer, the devoted athlete involved herself with multiple activities outside of school, striving to play the sport at the collegiate level.
“I was always [extremely] motivated to do my best in every team that I played in, which led me to aim higher and allow me to [fulfill] my wish of playing soccer [in] college,” ," Cisneros Botello said. “I attended [numerous] ID camps to learn more about the expectations of college coaches and how the programs ran.”
In addition to her love for soccer, Botello has also taken pleasure in being a part of the Spanish Honor Society since freshman year, where she is constantly reminded of who she is and her family background.
“We would sell candy grams or other goods to raise money to educate people about Spanish culture [while also] learning about ourselves along the way.”
After participating in the program for many years, Botello now feels confident in her own skin.
“From this experience, I learned to appreciate myself for who I am as a person and I grew to [appreciate] my culture more.”
Moreover, as a member of Team Up for St. Jude since sophomore year, Botello found joy in providing for the children at local hospitals.
“We would make [plenty of] cards and other gifts to [give] to the patients at the St. Jude children’s hospital," Cisneros Botello said. "As the years went by, I recognized my own privilege and felt good knowing that I was helping kids in need.”
With all that has happened since the pandemic, Botello struggled to maintain her mental state. Though there were some dark times in her life during quarantine, she managed to push through and remind herself of the upcoming opportunities that await her.
“Even though I felt disappointed when I heard that I would be attending school through Zoom my senior year of high school, practicing soccer reminds me that things will [one day] go back to normal and that the [current] circumstances are only temporary," Cisneros Botello said. "After I started being more active, I noticed that most of my negative emotions [dissipated], along with my previous pessimistic mindset.”
However, she could not have done that without the support of her teammates. Without them, she cannot guarantee that she would be in the same spirits that she is in today.
“My teammates have definitely made soccer memorable for me since we were able to cheer each other up [during] the hard times. I loved celebrating our wins with them since it reminds me of all of the hard work I put in," Cisneros Botello said. "If soccer was not a part of my life, I would have never gone through the [life-changing] experiences that shaped me into who I am [now].”
When she graduates at the end of this school year, Botello will attend Whittier College and pave her own way to a bright future by following her hopes and dreams.
“I committed to Whittier College, where my family and friends will be able to watch me play. They have a great psychology department that I would like to major in and a respectable coaching team for their soccer program, “Cisneros Botello said. "I look forward to all the years that come and I am excited to see what this new adventure will bring.”
With nothing to be afraid of and everything to look forward to, the aspiring soccer star is on a road towards victory.