West Ottawa Varsity soccer player and OK Red All-Conference center midfielder Sr. Freddy Romero dribbles down the field, passing one defender after another with ease. On the indoor grass the ball sticks like velcro on his feet. He pauses, accelerates, stops, spins and flies past one person after the other. Crossing from left to right Freddy moves right in front of the goal and looks to shoot. He sees a teammate open and lays the ball off for them to score on a wide open net. The shot goes wide right. On the sidelines, instead of groaning, the team laughs.
Romero has played soccer nearly all his life. Not only has he played soccer but he has played at a high level. The past two years he was named MVP of the WO varsity soccer team. He passes the ball with pace and understands the game inside and out. He has great vision and controls the ball with elegant grace. When he dribbles through defenders he appears to be dancing to music, music only he can hear. He is, without question, a special player; even in the OK Red. Playing for an indoor team that has played very little soccer, he looks like a superstar.
All of his teammates look at him as the reason why they have won any of their games. “He’s our main man up front. We just pass the ball to Freddy,” Sr. Isai Argon said. For the team he “wins all of our games,” Jr. Elijah Kliphuis said. “He makes us look good,” said Sr. Addam Jongekryg. Romero does not get frustrated with the inexperience on the team that he has to play with. “He wants to get better and wants others to get better around him and he doesn’t get frustrated,” Sr. Randy Renteria said. He’s the perfect player to keep the team moral up and help their play actually be successful.
Randy Renteria and Isai Argon, who initially came up with the idea to put the team together are some of the most experienced players on the team. Renteria played on an indoor for his JV year and Argon played his freshman year of high school. Both of them haven’t played since and miss playing soccer. This was further incentive for them both to put together the team that they both so enjoy playing on.
Argon and Renteria enjoy playing with a team of friends and understand the problem of playing with teammates that have played very limited amounts of soccer. Instead of being frustrated and getting hung up by the little whifs and bad shots, they laugh as a team and continue to learn from their mistakes with their heads held high and a spring in their step. All the mistakes and the team experience has contributed to them growing together more. “It is a lot of fun learning with everyone and getting to see them learn the basics again and coming together as a team,” Renteria said.
Sr. Leia Heidema who played soccer for WO her freshman year is widely considered the most improved player on the team. In one of their most recent games she scored a goal, not the first goal she had scored during the season but during a game where the scores were close and the competition intense the goal was much needed and critical to the team’s eventual victory. She’s become more than just a theater kid who only acts and sits on the sidelines. She now contributes to the team. Obviously not in the same way as Romero, but she contributes. She is their team voted most improved player.
Similarly, soph. Katie Fraunheim plays on the team even though she has not played organized soccer since 8th grade. She has enjoyed “spending time with the team because everyone is nice and I have enjoyed winning games,” Fraunheim said. Like many others on the team Fraunheim has fallen victim of not playing organized soccer in a while. During one of their games she, “was playing defense and the person I was blocking was right next to the goal. They had the ball and when the shot was kicked it moved quite quickly and before I realized what was happening I felt it bounce off my foot. When I looked to see where it had gone I realized that the ball had gone in the goal. It was very embarrassing,” Fraunheim said. Moments such as these where players who have not played organized soccer find themselves caught in embarrassing situations making them wish they had played more soccer.
Although their team may be defined by their wins and loss record in the standings of their league “Freddy and the funbunch” are much, much more than just a couple wins. They have learned a lot from each other and have grown as a team. As Romero continues to display his excellence on the field dragging his team to wins, the rest of the team learns in awe of him. After all a first time player missing a wide open net is something to laugh at, not groan.