Leafs News
#FeatureFriday: Huerta Switched Sports, Nations Before Excelling on Pitch
News Photo
Features - Fri, Jan. 22, 2016

During the 2015 fall semester, students in the Writing For Media class taught by professor Duane Stoltzfus produced a variety of articles. Among these articles were feature stories. The Goshen College sports information department is pleased to publish several features centering on GC athletics in the coming weeks and thanks professor Stoltzfus and the authors for granting permission to do so.

Soccer Player of the Year Dreamed of Basketball
By Karina Flores

Indiana Player of the Year. First Team All State. First Team All District. National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Offensive Player of the Week. First Team All-Crossroads League. These titles all belong to one Goshen College soccer player: Isaac Huerta.

Huerta became a local soccer sensation almost overnight, emerging as the best player in the state after less than five years of playing the sport.

Huerta is now a soccer player on the Goshen College men's soccer team, at one point scoring three game-winning goals in a row during the 2015 season.

Despite his recognition for the sport of soccer, Huerta actually spent most of his life as a basketball player in Mexico. He was so passionate about basketball, in fact, that he would travel two hours by car just to practice.

Huerta said, "Right after school, my mom would pick me up. I would get changed into my basketball clothes in the car, I would eat in the car, and I would go to my practice. It was a two-hour ride to my practice, so everything was so fast. Then I would go home, do my homework, go to sleep, and then repeat."

Huerta played for the team that represented the capital of Mexico in basketball, even competing in the Junior Olympics. From the age of 6  until he left Mexico City at age 12, Huerta played basketball year round.

"I loved basketball," he said. "It was everything to me. I never thought I would leave basketball."

"My goal was to make it big in basketball," Huerta said before laughing, "but my physical attributes were not the best for basketball. I'm really short."

Huerta stands five feet, eight inches tall.

Huerta decided to move to the United States for one year in order to learn more English after his uncle suggested the idea to Huerta's mother. After arriving in the States in 2010 and moving in with his aunt in Goshen, Huerta longed to go back home as he struggled to communicate with people in English.

Huerta said, "It was just so hard. I kept telling my aunt that I wanted to go back and she would say, 'No, just wait a little.'"

However, after about six months, Huerta began to enjoy being in the United States as his English improved and he was able to communicate more easily.

Huerta joined the Goshen Middle School basketball team and believes that his involvement in sports is what helped him develop his fluency in English.

When he arrived in the U.S., Huerta was surprised to learn that basketball is only played during the winter months. In Mexico, he played year-round and expected that it was the same in the U.S. Therefore, his cousin suggested that Huerta join the soccer team in order to stay in shape for basketball. Prior to playing on the Goshen Middle School soccer team, Huerta had never played on any organized soccer team.

"I didn't think much about soccer," he said. "I was just in it to have fun and stay in shape. I did like it but I was like, 'OK, I'm done, now on to basketball.'"

At the middle school, Huerta was a defender, but the high school soccer coach saw his potential as a forward due to his speed.

"Ever since that change… I guess that position made a big difference in how I saw soccer," he explained, saying that his love for soccer began to grow as he discovered his gift for scoring goals.

Huerta's ability to score goals helped the Goshen High School boys soccer team win the state championship a year ago, when he was a senior. Huerta remembers that ever since his freshman year of high school, he and his teammates had been determined to go far in the postseason of their senior year.

"It felt great, but at the same time, we just couldn't believe it because we always dreamed about [winning state]," Huerta said. "People would always ask me about what it felt like to keep going in the tournament and I never mentioned, 'This is a dream come true,' until that day that we won state."

After winning a state title, Huerta decided to continue his soccer career at Goshen College. The men's head coach, Arron Patrick, had coached Huerta's travel team and Patrick urged Huerta to sign with Goshen College. Patrick was hired at Goshen College as head coach and wanted Huerta on his team.

Although Huerta was offered scholarships to play at division I schools such as IUPUI and IPFW, he chose Goshen College because of his connection to Patrick and because of his desire to build up a struggling team.

Even after one season with Goshen College, Huerta saw an improvement in the men's soccer program. Despite struggling with various injuries that resulted in missing about six games of his first season, Huerta remains confident in the potential for him and the team.

"I feel like I'm building towards my goal and I'm a freshman, so I have a lot of time to get there," Huerta said.

Huerta says it is his family that motivates him to succeed both on and off the soccer field. Although it is very difficult for him to be separated from his family, their support is what keeps him going.

"It's crazy because my dad and my mom are always busy with their jobs in Mexico and they still find time to [watch my games online]," Huerta said.

"Sometimes I'm even bothered by how many text messages my mom sends me," he said with a smile, explaining how his mother constantly checks up on him.

"I know that my family is always there. They might not be there physically, but mentally they are always there," he added.

Apart from working hard in order to make his family proud, Huerta also wants to encourage other Latinos to strive for success in the U.S.

"I want to be an example that we [Latinos] can make it even if it's not our country or even if we don't have what most people have here," Huerta said.

Huerta's ultimate goal is to play professional soccer after college and to use his business and entrepreneurship degrees to someday open his own gym. 

To any young soccer players, Huerta said, "Work hard in school. Try your hardest in school, but don't forget about soccer. Just work hard on and off the field."

The series of features will continue on Friday, Jan. 29.