By SIMONE YU
Weaving the soccer ball swiftly between her feet, sophomore Julia Gomez races down the soccer field, the end time just seconds away. An instantaneous, successful kick to the goal and the crowd goes wild. This is the game she has been playing all her life, and she’s taking it to the very next level.
An eleven-year soccer athlete and former United States academy team player, Julia Gomez strives for more as she now plays for Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) Slammers Elite Clubs, National League (ECNL) and Wilson’s varsity soccer team, working toward her lifelong goal of being a professional soccer player. Gomez verbally committed to play Division 1 soccer at her dream school, University of Southern California (USC) on Sept. 25.
Gomez’s soccer journey began with a rough start when she was only four years old.
“I played soccer because my brothers all did sports and my parents didn’t want me to just stay home,” Gomez said. “I was actually forced to play at first and I would always cry when I would have to go to practice.”
Despite the heavy reluctance at first, soccer eventually grew to become a love and passion of hers, motivating her to always do her best.
“What motivates me is my passion for the sport and the effort and time I contribute to it,” Gomez said. “I have made forever friends in an amazing atmosphere where I feel at home. It has made my dream of going to USC a reality and allowed me to play against the best competition.”
She has been to national youth training, made playoffs with her team after working incredibly hard in season and won several state championships.
Throughout her journey, Gomez was lucky to have avoided physical injuries; however, she endured many mental hardships that, in the long run, motivated her to grow more as an athlete.
“Many people [demeaned me] and told me that I was not good enough, which affected [my mental state],” Gomez said. “This made me even more motivated to prove everyone wrong.”
Furthermore, Gomez trains daily to strengthen her soccer skills, both physically and mentally
“I physically strengthen my skills by training long hours and taking necessary breaks. I constantly work on my touch and shooting to play consistently [well] during games,” Gomez said. “Mentally, I often tell myself to stay confident and [to not be let down by mistakes.] I tell myself things that are worth it take hard work, repetition and time.”
Regardless of her soccer-centralized life, Gomez manages to balance her academics and extracurriculars— volleyball and track— with her passion.
“I do my homework before practice and put school before my sports,” Gomez said. “I love to stay active in sports and contribute my spirit and dedication to my school.”
Although Gomez trains daily to strengthen her skills, she enjoys numerous activities to help cool off and relax.
“When I’m not [training] I enjoy going out and hanging out with my friends. My friends and I like to go to the mall, to Disneyland, or just have a good time talking and laughing at someone’s home,” Gomez said. “Other times, I like to stay home, sleep, or be with my dog.”
Overall, this soccer star shows her deepest appreciation for her parents, friends, teammates and coaches for helping her reach her goals.
“My parents support me time-wise and financially, taking me to my practices and games, as well as paying for all of my expenses. [I am also thankful for] my friends, who have always believed in me even when I did not,” Gomez said. “Finally, my teammates and coaches have helped me skill-wise and get me to where I am today. I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life helping me become a good player and person.”
Gomez has the utmost respect for soccer legend Mia Hamm, as well as her older brother, both of who have constantly inspired her growing up.
“Mia Hamm was one of the best woman players who inspired my love for soccer and as a kid, I would always watch her highlights before my game,” Gomez said. “My older brother is another one of my role models. He started coaching me from a young age and helped me [acquire] skills to improve at the sport I love.”
Although Gomez has already achieved big things in her life, she has high hopes for the future.
“My goals for the future are to constantly improve in preparation for playing at USC. In the long run, hopefully, with enough hard work and dedication, I can become a player on the United States Women’s National Team.” Gomez said. “With my determination, I believe I can play professionally in the future, but I mainly hope to successfully graduate from USC with good grades and much more knowledge than before.”
Being the resilient, strong, and disciplined young teenager she is today, working hard to make her dreams a reality, it is very easy to picture Julia Gomez as the next soccer champion.