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Janae Gonzalez: Our World Cup Athlete

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Vista alum Janae Gonzalez is just one of the great athletes that has moved on to pursue sports after successfully playing for Vista.

Vista alum Janae Gonzalez is just one of the great athletes that has moved on to pursue sports after successfully playing for Vista.

Natalia Maverakis

Natalia Maverakis

Vista alum Janae Gonzalez is just one of the great athletes that has moved on to pursue sports after successfully playing for Vista.

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Most people have goals they set for themselves, both short-term and ones that are works-in-progress for years, but few accomplish their far-reaching goals the way Vista del Lago High School’s Janae Gonzalez has.

Gonzalez has been playing soccer for eight years and in May 2013, she joined the 2014 U17 Women’s Mexican National Team and played for them in the World Cup in March 2014.

Just like any successful person, she did not start out on top; it took time and patience to get where she is today.

“I was scouted and then invited to a training camp in Mexico,”  Gonzalez said. “I went to eight weeks worth of training camps before the final team was selected for the world cup qualifiers.”

In her first game in the World Cup, Mexico played against Colombia, and Gonzalez shot a goal that was voted as the best goal of the tournament by ESPN Deportes. Mexico then went on to win their second game and she won the FIFA Player of the Match.

These achievements are rewarding, but they don’t stop her from feeling the pressure that comes with representing a country.

“When playing for Mexico, I am playing for a whole country– family, friends and thousands of other people I do not know are counting on me to contribute,” Gonzalez said. “Although this is stressful because no one wants to let people down, I was having the time of my life.”

If representing an entire country did not set Gonzales apart from other people, playing for a country that was foreign to her definitely did. She had to train with players who spoke no English, especially difficult since she lacked the ability to speak fluent Spanish.

“The first camp that I attended in Mexico was the first time I was referred to as ‘American.’ I was automatically not liked by those from Mexico, they did not want me there. As the camp started and other players began to realize I was there for a reason things became better,” said Gonzalez.

Now that she is back in the United States and “back to reality,” she has her memories to share.

“What I miss most about Mexico is the people. I left my second family there and it is uncertain when I will see them again,” Gonzalez said. ”The emotions that filled my body before, during and after every game, that I got the honor to play in, is the most amazing, unrelatable and unexplainable feeling of my life.”

She is nowhere near done with her soccer career and plans to further it, already committed to playing for University of Santa Clara.

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Janae Gonzalez: Our World Cup Athlete