Co-Conference Soccor Champion: Gilberto Perez

By: Kaitlyn Dohs

For some people, sports are simply a way to stay busy and exercise. For Gilberto Perez, a junior on the Oak Creek High School boys varsity soccer team, sports are so much more.

Perez has played basketball, football, and soccer. However, his passion for soccer trumps all and it has become his main focus since his freshman year of high school. He credits his love for the game to his family, teammates, and coaches.

In the earlier stages of Perez’s soccer career, he had the privilege of having his dad as a coach and his brother as a teammate. For many this may sound like a nightmare, but for Perez this was not the case.

“[It] made it better because the bond I had with my brother and dad made me want to play better for them,” said Perez.

However, it was not always sunshine and rainbows. The pain of hearing his father’s criticism following a seemingly perfect game was hard for Perez, although he subsequently acknowledged that he was grateful for the critiques.

“My dad just motivates me… after I think about what he says I end up agreeing and I know it’ll help me play better,” Perez stated.

It is that type of positive attitude that defines Perez out on the field. Perez is a midfielder which means he plays both sides of the ball and works hard to keep the offense and defense running smoothly. This is a key role on the field and Perez strives to be better not only as a player but as a teammate as well. This does not go unnoticed.

“He is very positive and passionate about what he does,” shared Argjend Ilazi, Perez’s teammate.

Perez tries his best on the field to maintain a positive attitude but admits that he has his faults and gets frustrated with himself if he is not playing to the best of his ability. It is in those moments that he turns to his teammates. 

“It’s like they’re all brothers,” stated Marin Storm, the team’s manager when asked about the team’s dynamic on and off the field.

Thanks to the friendships that the team has formed, the boys varsity soccer team was able to make it to the conference championship for the first time in eight years. The conference championship game was Thursday, Oct. 6 against Kenosha Tremper. Unfortunately after the 80 minutes ran out the score remained tied 0-0. The teams were named co-conference champions. 

 “It’s the stupidest thing ever… I don’t know why we couldn’t do PK’s [penalty kicks] or something,” Perez exclaimed.

While the end result was not exactly what Perez or the team was hoping for, Perez holds no regrets about the way that the team played. Even after the disappointment of not walking off the field with a win and the title of conference champions Perez was able to maintain his positive attitude.

“We came out with a lot of energy and I am proud of us for pushing ourselves the whole game… I love my team,” stated Perez.

The passion that Perez holds for the sport and his team is admirable in the soccer community and will help him achieve big things in the future of his soccer career. He hopes to be able to continue playing when he reaches the collegiate level.

“I’ve only talked to one college but I want to talk to more,” shared Perez.

To achieve this goal he plays club soccer at Elmbrook United which is located in Brookfield. Perez drives 35 minutes to practice three times a week and travels out of state most weekends to show off his skills at showcases. Hundreds of college coaches attend these showcases to recruit future prospects. Due to this, the environment at club soccer is very different from the environment at high school.

“Club is very competitive because everyone is fighting to get noticed by college coaches,” commented Perez. 

Many athletes may find this environment stressful, but to a true competitor like Perez, it is just another thing that drives him. The improvement that he sees during club season is what gives him hope that one day he can reach his ultimate goal. 

“Playing in the MLS (Major League Soccer) is my dream,” shared Perez.

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