Adam Mena: Hard work truly pays off

Isaac Sierra

Perspiration dripping down his neck, Adam Mena dribbles the ball to the edge of the 18 yard box. He takes a quick touch past the unprepared defender and rapidly strikes the ball with his left foot. The ball soars through the air with just a slight sidespin. It bounces slightly beyond the keeper’s grasp and lands right into the goal. The crowd erupts in celebration as Mena’s effort leads Notre Dame University to a victory.

Adam Mena is a 26-year-old West Ottawa alumni who has worked hard to successfully become a professional soccer player in the MLS. He has overcome many obstacles to obtain his success in the sport, and his success was achieved solely by dedication.

  Mena started playing soccer when he was 2 years old. “No one really ‘inspired’ me to play per se, my dad encouraged my siblings and I to try and experience many different sports.” When Mena was a child, he was not the superstar that people are used to today. He performed similarly to every other kid on the field. Nevertheless, he kept playing the game due to his pure fascination with the sport. “Out of all the sports I tried, soccer was the one I found the most joy in and to be honest was the best at, so it was the sport I stuck with,” Mena said. Little did Mena know at the time that he would become not only a great soccer player in high school, but a top performer at Notre Dame and a professional soccer player.

  Although it may seem as if Mena was born with the talent to score great goals and perform incredibly well at soccer, he actually was not a very good soccer player when he started. He tried out for the Olympic Development Program (ODP) when he was younger and he did not make the team. ODP is a program designed to develop players’ skills and to serve as a recruiting hotbed for college coaches. Since Mena did not even make the team, the chances of making it into a high quality college would seem nearly impossible. Nevertheless, Mena was accepted into one of the best colleges for soccer in the nation.

   How did Mena go from not even making it onto a team designed to attract college attention, to making it to Notre Dame and proceeding to play professionally? Mena may not have possessed the natural talent of the other players, but he realized something; “Don’t be afraid of hard work… I firmly believe in the quote ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work,” Mena said. As a child Mena did not possess the natural talent of many other players. Even his first year for Notre Dame was rough, “Compared to the players I was playing with and against, I felt as if I was ‘the joke.’ Some of these players had amazing credentials and honors one could only dream up, and it was very intimidating,” Mena said. Mena could have given in to the intimidation and allowed the other players to overtake him. However, his work ethic and determination allowed him to progress from an amateur soccer player to a soccer superstar capable of competing with his teammates and even fiercer competition.

  Although Mena is a spectacular soccer player, he has also proved himself to be a very intelligent man as well. Along with his spectacular work ethic, West Ottawa has helped Mena excel academically. “It helped prepare me educationally and for life after high school,” Mena said. Initially, Mena had difficulty finding an alternative occupation to soccer. Due to his academic excellence and fascination with the mind, he was determined to find a job that had to do with people. “I realized I had a passion for helping people. That lead me to study psychology and currently nursing. Both have allowed me to obtain certain jobs as well as gain some experience that even further develop my interest in each field,” Mena said. After his soccer career comes to a close, having psychology as an alternative will be just what Mena needs to continue his life of hard work and success. “I hope to one day be able to work in a hospital type setting which would allow me the opportunity to help many people,” Mena said..

  Adam Mena is a successful athlete and student graduating from our own West Ottawa high school. However, his success story is not defined by natural talent. It is defined merely by hard work and determination. “HARD WORK WILL TAKE YOU MUCH FURTHER THAN YOU THINK,” Mena said, revealing his most important life lesson.