Servando Vargas/Courier Mario Urbina in his room with the video game FIFA 21 in the background via a zoom call on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Mario, who plays soccer for PCC, has been following quarantine guidelines to ensure he does not compromise his family bubble.
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As a 5-year-old, PCC midfielder Mario Urbina remembered watching one of his favorite soccer teams play in the 2010 World Cup with his family. The Urbinas’, especially his grandfather, would wake up at 6:00 a.m. to watch Honduras, a small country in Central America between Guatemala and El Salvador. On other days, Urbina would find his grandfather watching soccer after he came home from school. This was a special time for both of them because it gave them a chance to connect with each other on a deeper level. As they sat on the couch together watching soccer games, Urbina’s grandfather would give him advice on sportsmanship and hard work.

This memory is why Urbina started to play soccer. At a young age, sports brought his family together. The moment he touched a soccer ball, he fell in love with the sport and it made who he is today.

“I enjoyed playing soccer the second I touched the ball, it helped me get closer with my cousins,” said Urbina. “I love soccer so much because it made me the person I am today.”

Urbina attended Arroyo High School in El Monte where he played high school soccer. He didn’t play his freshman or sophomore year but played his junior and senior year. Although both years were memorable, Ubrina experienced the most feelings of joy and frustration during his senior year. The team was on a quest to go undefeated, but with success comes egos. 

The chemistry started to become a problem on the field when some players realized that other players were receiving more playing time than others. This affected the way the team interacted in the locker room and on campus. Even though the team experienced some difficulties, they pulled it together to accomplish the undefeated season. Urbina solved this problem by talking to every single player about sacrificing for the team. He told them that sitting on the bench or playing less minutes can help the team win soccer games.  

“I had plenty of memories playing with my teammates, one of them was going 12-0 in league and we sacrificed a lot of things to have the season that we did,” said Urbina.

College was never on Urbina’s mind until he got a call from Gerry Mora, the head soccer coach at PCC. Coach Mora recruited Urbina with hopes that he would join the team. As soon Urbina got on the practice field, he saw every single player running emphatically in the 95-degree heat. Sweat dripped down each one of their faces. The practice was so intense, they begged for water. In Urbina’s eyes, he saw a resilient group where every player was passing, shooting and communicating for the team.

“The second I practiced with the team it was such an amazing feeling,” said Urbina. “The competitiveness and the pace of the game was so much faster, I loved it.”

Urbina was very competitive and would do anything to win. When practice finished, he would stay afterward to get extra free kicks. Urbina would work on free kicks and his teammate would work on blocking Urbina’s shots. When he finished his free kicks, Urbina and his teammate would sprint around the soccer field 15 times to stay in shape. One of his teammates, goalie Andrew Espinoza, remembered the dedication Urbina put into his pursuit to be the best he could be.

“He was really competitive, there were times when Mario would stay after practices and get more runs in or shots to the goal,” said Espinoza.

Urbina was the ultimate team player on the soccer field. He cared about how well his teammates were doing to make sure they had the best chance to win. Urbina is not only a great player, but he is also unselfish.

“Mario is a player that when it’s not his best day he will be asked to get subbed out to give someone else a chance,” said Espinoza. “He doesn’t get mad when we have to switch up our style of play against a certain team. He does whatever our coach tells him to, in order to improve our team.”

His teammates think very highly of Urbina as a leader. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team hasn’t been able to practice together, but players have been able to run their own practices during the pandemic. Urbina is one of those leaders who has helped many freshmen transition from high school to college. He stepped up to the plate to be a mentor, an advisor and a friend to get the team through these uncertain times. 

“He has helped people with homework, getting their classes, and coming to our soccer class through zoom,” said Espinoza. Mario is doing a fantastic job.”

Urbina has considered transferring to a four-year university in hope of playing Division 1 Division 2 soccer. This season, Urbina wants to show his talent to other scouts that he can play soccer at a Division 1 program.

“I just hope I get an offer this year and show coaches I’m capable of playing in a D-1 [division1] or D-2 [division 2] school,” said Urbina.

Urbina has hopes of playing professional soccer in the future. This is a dream of his because he wants to help his parents out. Money was never a problem for the Urbinas’, but helping his parents retire is one of his goals.

 

     

 

      

 

  

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