In the conference room at Turlock High’s main office, athletic director Anthony Belew had to speak his mind to Josue Barajas, who signed his national letter of intent to play for Cal State Stanislaus men’s soccer on Friday morning.
“You don’t think it’s a big deal,” Belew said. “But I think it’s a big deal.”
Yes, it’s rare that a Turlock boys soccer player signs with a four-year college right out of high school. Belew also pointed out that it’s rare that a Turlock student-athlete signs in other sports, saying sometimes the school goes an entire year without a single college signing.
Not this year.
Barajas, in other words, is an exception to his sport. Doug Sperry, the Turlock boys soccer coach, said it’s been a number of years since the Bulldogs had a college-caliber athlete like Barajas, who scored 14 goals and 11 assists as a forward to help lead his team to a rare Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game last fall.
He first came in contact with Cal State Stanislaus soccer after the program’s coach, Dana Taylor, started coaching Barajas’ club soccer team, Turlock FC. The relationship started in the summer, and the Warriors made a formal scholarship offer in late 2010. Barajas was elated, knowing that he was the first person on his father’s side of the family to attend college.
“I never thought I’d make it to the college level,” Barajas said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing in college. I never thought I’d get to this point.”
He signed his national letter of intent in front of his parents, Emiliano and Socorro Barajas, his brothers, school officials and one of his high school coaches, Andres Guillen, who acted as a varsity assistant and the junior varsity coach last season. Guillen remembers when he was a senior and playing with a freshman Josue, who weighed no more than 100 pounds. But now, Josue has blossomed into a 130-pound, 5-foot-9 athlete who is known for his speed and his control of the ball.
Josue’s dad said through a family translator that he never thought that his son, who’s the smallest of all his sons, would go on to play for a college. Nonetheless, he expressed his happiness for Josue.
“I feel really proud of him,” Emiliano said. “Being the smallest one, he’s been the best one. I never expected it from my son. He never gave up and always moved forward.”
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