They may be Jags forever, and they may be headed up together to play college soccer far from home, but when it comes to the Copa Mundial, the trio has disparate wishes for the action that starts June 12.
On one hand, Carlos Vazquez, better known as “Robinho,” is a die-hard Brazil rooter, which makes sense given his flashy, quick-feet style on the field. Then there’s Idalia Ortiz, the super-athletic midfielder, who has always had a preference for Italy. Get it? Idalia…Italia? And finally, goal queen Dulce Torres, who just puts her hands out, palms up, saying…Mexico, of course!
The threesome of Econ stars has its sights set on the World Cup but also on the next step, which will begin in the fall at Texas College in Tyler. Coach Demetrio Hernandez came to town Thursday to sign his latest crop of Valley talent, and he is mighty happy with the current haul.
“The Valley has a lot of talent,” he said. “When I started the program five years ago this is one of the first places I came.”
It has been a banner year for the Jags, as they’ve had two other kids so far ink letters of intent for college athletics, Gary Rodriguez (football) and Josh Diaz (hoops). The soccer coaches are pleased at being able to turn out college material but also wistful about losing such veteran contributors. Ortiz and Torres were four-year starters for Coach Robert Garcia who were cornerstones of the program’s resurgence.
“It will be hard to replace these girls but I am happy for them,” said Garcia, whose bunch barely missed the playoffs the past two years. “I am using them as an example for the next group, showing them what is possible if you work hard. These ladies have been outstanding for us.”
Torres heads to Tyler bent on continuing an assault on goal that installed her as the leading scorer in Econ annals. She and midfielder Ortiz played in the East-West Senior Showcase in May, and each has a chance to see the field right off the bat.
“I told them that seldom do freshmen get a chance to play, much less start,” said Hernandez, whose women’s team has made the postseason twice so far. “But I think they both have a shot at being key players for us.”
As for Vazquez, a rangy midfielder with amazing moves and a fierce spirit on the pitch, Jag Coach Sam Gonzalez knows he will do well.
“The guy bailed me out of a lot games this year and I think he will continue to get better every season,” said Gonzalez, who has fashioned the Jags into one of the Valley’s greatest soccer dynasties, with four straight league titles.
As the stars looked to graduation Sunday, they were fired up about the trip east. Ortiz used to live in Mount Pleasant in North Texas, so she’s somewhat familiar with the area. Thursday she told her once and future teammates all about what to expect from the Piney Woods, noting that East Texas is really green and it is always raining.
Fow now, it’s a summer of workouts for the Jag standouts, and each will have an eye firmly turned to the international soccer festivities in South Africa. But soon they will put away the TV clicker and begin a new life in Tyler.