Madera footballer signs for college


Courtesy of the Valdez Family

Madera’s Christian Valdez and his family are all smiles after he signed his National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Simpson University. Valdez, a starter with the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers, takes a 4.2 grade point average to Simpson.

 

Christian Valdez of Madera signed a Letter of Intent to attend Simpson University to study and play soccer in the fall.


The defender is eager to not only take his talents to the next level on the field, but also in the classroom. Valdez signed his letter a couple of months ago with family and friends watching.


The San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panther will finish his senior year as a starter on the Panthers soccer team with a 4.2 GPA student.


“At the start of my senior year, I had no idea where and if I was going be able to play in college, but I knew that I really wanted to and it had always been my dream. After months of emailing and tryouts, I found a place that was the right fit for me in Simpson University,” Valdez said. “I was overwhelmed with joy when I signed for Simpson because I have worked a long time to play in college and now my dream has become reality. I am nervous for next year since it’s a step up in the level of play, but I’m excited for the chance to push my game to next level.”


And for anyone who knows Valdez, pushing himself to be the best has always been second nature. Valdez has shown the ability to put in the work behind the scenes to prepare himself to not only be a starter on a strong Panthers team, but for the college level as well.


As a defender, Valdez will face a new set of challenges with better forwards and athletes, but the Memorial senior gives his all and so far, it has worked out well.


“I’m a defensive player who plays center back and right back. I love to defend and the physical side of the game,” he said. “I also like to get forward and whip in crosses and connect passes with the team. A strength I have is my defensive positioning. I model my game after players like Ashley Cole (former Arsenal and Chelsea soccer player) and Kyle Walker (current Manchester City right back).”


The future collegiate athlete has a strong supporting cast that has enabled him to succeed on the field and in the classroom. A sister that shares his passion for the game and a strong support system from mom and dad that offer him the guidance needed to navigate the challenges of being a varsity athlete and a scholar.


Valdez wants to pursue journalism in the future, alongside his athletic goals.


“I have done well in school, but I owe a lot to family. While I was studying or doing homework late, my parents would be making dinner, bringing snacks to me, and doing my chores so I had time to study,” Valdez said. “My sister helped a lot with my chores, as well. Whenever I was discouraged, they were all very encouraging and they kept me going.”


His father, George Valdez, a Fresno Police Department officer, can count on his fingers how many times he’s missed one of his son’s games since he was a boy. Despite his line of work and schedule, in general, the family and his father specifically, were always there behind their Christian.


“He’s always been one of those kids that we didn’t have to see if his homework was done. He’s always been on top of everything, very scheduled and just a hard worker,” the elder Valdez explained. “Very little supervision required with him.”


But the younger Valdez, who is now heading to Simpson University, might’ve picked up a few soccer genes as his father played for the Madera Coyotes during his younger years.


“I think just the enjoyment of the game might’ve come from me and his sister is the same way. She enjoys playing soccer too, I guess we’re a soccer family,” the elder Valdez said.


And after a rough start to his senior campaign due to COVID-19, Valdez is back on the field closing out his final matches as a high-school athlete.


“It has been difficult during COVID since I have not been able to play as much, but now my high school season has started and I am so excited to be on the field again doing what I love. It was difficult to not have team to play with, but I did train a lot on my own,” he said.


Valdez will join his new team in the fall of 2021 where his dream of playing at the collegiate level will finally begin.

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