Belerica Oquendo has seen a lot of this nation traveling with her select girls soccer team.
What she’d like to see now is she and her Euless Trinity teammates making a trip to the high school soccer postseason.
“I’m optimistic about the season,” she said. “We need to bond, have a strong relationship off the field that carries over onto the field. We have a lot of players with skills, and I’ve known two or three of the girls since seventh grade and we’re best friends.”
Oquendo, a sophomore, understands the meaning of chemistry. She has been playing in the Dallas Kicks organization for over a decade. In fact, she began playing soccer at age 4.
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She also has a strong family athletics legacy. Her brother, Enrique Oquendo, a 2012 Trinity graduate, is a minor league baseball pitcher. Her father, Jesus Oquendo, played baseball in Puerto Rico and coached and played semi-professional and select baseball for nearly two decades.
“We traveled a lot with him, and we’re traveling a lot with her, but it’s all worth it,” Jesus Oquendo said.
“I’ve always looked up to my brother. He has a good habit of always pushing forward, and so does my dad, and it’s rubbed off on me,” Belerica Oquendo said.
Oquendo’s under-17 team with the Kicks is among the top 20 in the nation in U.S. Youth Soccer. Among its successes was going 2-2 in one of the nation’s elite tournaments in North Carolina over the holiday break.
Oquendo said she was drawn to soccer because of the feeling of “sisterhood” the sport gave her. Of course, that can be true of other sports, but for some reason it was more prevalent in soccer, she said, as she also previously played two years of select basketball and softball, along with volleyball in junior high.
She started as a forward, but later moved to defender. She said she likes being the last line of defense between the opposing attackers and the goalkeeper.
“I like the reliability I have to show. You see the whole field,” she said. “Your goalie is always talking to you. It all ties in together to keep the other team from scoring.”
Clawson said Oquendo has “almost unlimited potential,” and added that will only increase given the tough district (5-6A) in which the Lady Trojans compete.
“You can’t gain better experience for a defender than what she’s about to get,” he said. “She sees the field and the game and helps us offensively from her defensive position because of that vision.”
Oquendo has some time to decide where she wants to play in college, but she definitely wants to play. Academically, she’s already taking college prep classes.
She calls herself a homebody, in spite of all of her travels, so she said she is considering the likes of TCU and Baylor. Also, she said Trinity head coach Kurt Clawson has told her a lot about the University of Colorado, where he studied 1992-1996.
But wherever she goes, she knows what she wants to do for a career. She wants to work with special-needs children.
“My older sister worked with them and told me about it,” she said. “I want to make a difference in their lives.”
And though she’ll be on the road with the Kicks even throughout the Lady Trojans’ season, she said she will always be there for her Trinity teammates, even if it means some juggling.
Clawson said Oquendo has “a great personality and team-before-self concept.”
“I love to represent Trinity. I’ll always make it work,” she said. “Last year on my birthday I had to play a school game, and then I took a flight to Arkansas for a showcase that weekend.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.”