By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Sophomore Gisel Duarte has a lot to smile about these days. The former Pima Community College women’s soccer star will be continuing her playing career at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M.
Last season Duarte had six goals and three assists in 20 games for the Aztecs. Her shining moment came during a three-goal performance against South Mountain Community College on Aug. 31.
The San Luis, Ariz., native has come a long way since she first laced up her cleats in the fifth grade. She has played every position on the soccer field during her career, but prefers to play forward.
She started to realize she was pretty good during high school, but Pima wasn’t her first choice for continuing play after graduation.
“My first option was Mesa Community College because my sister went there and I knew their coach,” she said. “But when I came to visit Pima the environment here was something I wanted to be a part of.”
For the next two years she did everything in her power to become the best soccer player she could be.
“She is serious about soccer and has a great passion for the game,” head coach Kendra Veliz said. “She really wants to do well for herself and her teammates.”
Veliz thinks University of the Southwest will be a great fit for Duarte and said the coaches there are excited to have her join the team.
Soccer runs in the Duarte family. Her older sister played at Mesa Community College and her younger brother is an up-and-comer at San Luis High School.
Duarte feels it’s important for her to maintain good grades so that she can set a good example for her two younger siblings.
“I tell my brother all the time to keep his grades up and don’t be like me when I was in high school,” she said. “I realize now how important grades are and what the value of an education can do.”
Duarte plans to earn her degree in parks and recreation. She hopes one day to teach kids how to play sports, preferably soccer.
For right now, however, she plans on playing soccer for as long as she can.
Her goals for the upcoming season at University of the Southwest is to score goals and get good grades.
She knows if she can do those two things, everything else will fall into place.