Freshmen Reflect on Being the Last Raiders to Play Soccer for Northside

With Kimmons Junior High transitioning to a middle school, those freshmen who joined Northside’s upperclassmen on the Soccer field hold a special place in Raider history.

“Being one of the last Kimmons 9th graders to play Soccer for NHS made me feel proud because it allowed me to help set a standard,” Liset Vallejo said.

Gabriela Ramirez also felt proud.

“It made me feel accomplished, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Gabriela said.

The honor brought out mixed emotions in Jose Arubio.

“I felt happy but also sad that I am going to move on to another school,” Jose said.

Jose’s biggest challenge was getting comfortable on the team.

“There were people better than me, and when us new people made a mistake, we knew they were going to blame us,” Jose said. “My best moment was that I made friends, and when everyone is friends on a team, we play ever better. NHS is a great team!”

For Liset, starting back up amidst a pandemic proved challenging.

“We had to distance ourselves for mostly the beginning of the season,” Liset said.

Wearing masks during practice proved difficult for Gabriela.

“It was easier to get out of breath,” Gabriela said.

Lucy Buster´s biggest challenge was when some of the girls got quarantined.

“This would take most of the team out for a while, but we stayed strong for each other,” Lucy said.

Ashley Aceves wanted to scrimmage, but that was difficult when having to socially distance.

“Playing together was wanted, but we had to wait, which sucked,” Ashley said.

Team manager Jose Salzar cited traveling as one of the biggest challenges.

“There are different rules for every school, and it was hard to know what we were allowed to do or not do,” Jose said.

Despite the challenges of COVID, the Soccer coaches motivated the teams through encouraging words.

“Personally, I couldn’t ask for better coaches,” Lucy said. “It may have taken blood, sweat, and tears, but they made the Northside Grizzlies Soccer team. We made it a good year, even through a pandemic.”

Gabriella also appreciated the coaches’ support and how they did not go easy on the girls.

“They told us what we were doing wrong but also used words of encouragement,” Gabriela said.

Just seeing the state championship banner motivated Ashley.

“I wanted to get one up there, too!” Ashley said.

The coaches ensured the athletes that they were a very talented group.

“They also told us we had the skill to beat many teams, and we just needed to work together,” Liset said. “Coach Maciel motivated me personally by telling me little things I needed to improve on or just to do during a game.”

Each athlete had a most memorable moment, and for Ashley, the first JV game — March 16, 2021 — stood out.

“I got the opportunity to start,” Ashley said. “It takes a lot of work to get a chance to start.”

Gabriela liked going hiking with her teammates and eating dinner together`.

The best moment for Liset was the first game, Northside vs Poteau.

“It was the least stressful, and it was also the most exciting since we won 11-0!” Liset said.

Lucy enjoyed playing with the team, having fun, and supporting one another.

“It was a good experience because we learned new things from our teammates,” Lucy said.

Mauricio Maciel coaches the girls’ and the boys’ Northside Soccer teams.

“We are extremely proud of ALL the freshmen, particularly the starters like Elena Centeno, Rosaanahi Centeno, Jennifer Iturriaga, and Liset Vallejo,” Coach Maciel said. “These freshmen played against senior-loaded teams and held their own. They are also great students in the classroom, and that is a great combination to play Soccer in college, if they desire to do that. Northside Soccer is blessed to have had all of these players on our roster.”