Freshman Jaime Velasco gives insights into his inspirations for playing and being the new guy on the team
By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Scoring goals comes naturally to freshman Jaime Velasco. In high school, he set a school record his senior year, scoring 30 goals in one season and leading his team with 18 assists.
After two years on varsity at East Anchorage High School in Alaska, he moved to Westview High School in Beaverton, Ore. and took his team to a state title. He was named the Oregon State Championship Player of the Game and Oregon State Player of the Year.
Men's soccer head coach Bill Irwin has had Velasco on his radar for a while.
"He did very well in high school and in club," Irwin said. "We were just happy that we identified him early enough to get him to come here."
Velasco's love for soccer and his natural ability got him started playing at the age of five. Velasco was encouraged to play by his father, who also played soccer his whole life.
"My dad is really competitive, he's been my coach my whole life and kept me playing," Velasco said.
Irwin's plan for Velasco has always been for him to come play from day one and score goals. He has been a great addition to the team so far, playing in all seven games this season.
Velasco scored his first goal against heated rival Gonzaga on Sept. 26, and has taken taken 17 shots and has two assists. Irwin has faith in his ability to score and knows if he puts him in a position to make a difference, he will.
"He's a threat. Teams will focus in on him and we know that," Irwin said. "He's created a lot of chances so far, it's just been very unlucky that he hasn't scored as much, but we know that's coming."
The most impressive thing about Velasco is his ability to learn.
"He's a very good listener," Irwin said. "He takes what you ask him and puts it into practice, he wants to get better, learn and grow. He pays attention and whatever he's told to do, he does it."
Velasco not only loves the Pilot soccer program, he loves the feel of campus. That's what drew him to UP rather than anywhere else.
"I just like the school, the soccer program and the scholarship helped, but basically the coaching staff, I really like them," Velasco said. "I like the community, it's so close and everybody knows each other."
As for how Velasco hopes to help the team?
"Just be the guy who impacts the game," Velasco said.
Velasco can be seen Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. when the Pilots take on WCC rival San Francisco at Merlo Field.
Velasco is looking forward to playing Santa Clara at home on Oct. 12. Santa Clara ended conference play 7-4-1 last season and the Pilots ended 6-5-1. Both teams are equally matched and it will be one of the closest games this year.