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May 25, 2022

NCAA Soccer: Gilroy’s Flores achieves collegiate dreams

GILROY—Alejandro Flores was a wanted man. He had several Southern California Division I soccer teams knocking on his door, hoping he’d suit up for them this fall. But Flores’ mother, apprehensive to have him go so far away, was praying he’d stay closer to home.
It turns out her prayers were answered.
Flores will attend and play soccer for Santa Clara University this fall, becoming the first member of his family to attend college.
“It’s always been a big goal and dream for me to play NCAA Division I men’s soccer and now I’ll see what Santa Clara has in store for me,” Flores, who plays striker, said. “The level of education there is also great, so I’m excited about it all around.”
His achievement has set a precedent for his siblings. Flores said his younger sisters, 13-year-old Kayla and 4-year-old Kathy, now see higher education as an obtainable goal, but have seen the hard work their brother put in to get there.
“(My sisters) are motivated a bit more to reach that dream and follow in my footsteps. They both say they want to go to Santa Clara now, too,” Flores said.
The Gilroyan has been chasing his DI dreams since he started playing soccer with Gilroy Rec at 3 years old. When he was 7, he began playing with Morgan Hill’s Orchard Valley program before moving on to Gilroy High. He played on varsity his freshman, sophomore and junior years and helped the Mustangs to a Central Coast Section title in 2014.
“He always brought a lot of fight, grit,” Gilroy High head coach Armando Padilla said. “Some players, especially the gifted ones, don’t like to work hard or don’t like to do the dirty work. Well Alejandro, even though he had the skill and the talent, he had the work ethic as well. When you can get those two things and get players to have the whole package is when they become really special.”
Flores had to forgo his senior year with Gilroy High due to a contractual obligation with his club team, the Juventus Academy in Redwood City, which prohibited him from playing with any other teams to avoid injury.
Playing with Juventus meant giving up more than playing for Gilroy High, however. Four times a week, Flores made the hour and a half trek to Redwood City where he would practice for two hours a night, meaning he wouldn’t get back to Gilroy until nearly 11:30 p.m. Then he would wake up, go to school and start the cycle over again.
“Sometimes it was difficult,” Flores said, “but I pushed through.”
The sacrifices he made opened college doors to Flores. During his tenure with Juventus, his team played the De Anza Force Academy and he caught the eye of their coach, who was also an assistant at Santa Clara University. From the moment he stepped on campus, he knew it was right fit.
As he prepares for the next phase of his life, Flores said he’s grateful to everyone who supported his soccer dreams.
“I’m looking forward to getting some playing time on the team and making the most impact I can,” Flores said.

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