Just for kicks : Senior soccer player enjoys success on field

Arissa Mejia

The opposing team has the ball, and they’re dribbling down the soccer field, getting ready to kick the ball into the net to score. Senior Yanni Vasilakis stands at the center-mid of the field and waits for the ball to be kicked towards him. There’s only a couple seconds left until the game is over and this kick determines the fate of whether or not the team will take home a win. The opposing team kicks a power shot towards the net but he strides towards the ball and kicks it towards the opposing team’s net, leading his team to another victory. 

Yanni has been playing soccer since he was four years old and grew up loving the sport. Not only does he enjoy the game itself but he enjoys the bonds he grew along the way.

“What I like most about soccer is the people I play with,” Yanni said. “I like doing team sports because I get to spend time with other people and build up friendships.”

Yanni plays center-mid for the school, but he is also in club soccer which he is center-back for.

“The positions I play allow me to control the field easily, and I can pass the ball a lot better.” Yanni said. “I’m also not that fast, so I don’t have to rely on speed for my positions.”

Soccer coach Paul Ruiz recognizes Yanni’s strengths on the field and how his position allows him to move around easily.

“Yanni’s strongest attribute as a player is his ability to ‘see the field.’ Ruiz said. “Yanni’s position is right smack in the middle of all the action, many games he is playing in a very crowded situation and his vision of the field allows him to make plays in tight spaces which can help the team move forward or slow down an attack from the opponent.”

Unlike the soccer team at school, his club soccer team has been together since before high school, which it allows more opportunities to travel around and play against several different teams.

“For club soccer, we travel a lot more,” Yanni said. “I’ve been playing with a lot of the players on my club team way longer than we’ve been in high school, so we all know each other really well.”

Not only is soccer a sport for entertainment and activity, but it also helps Yanni out in his everyday life.

 “I learned to honor my commitments and keep better track of time,” Yanni said. “It’s also pushed me to stay physically fit and have self motivation, which I use for other things like school and work.”

Ruiz acknowledges Yanni as a player by how he leads by example and how he has improved his soccer skills over the years. 

“Yanni has taken huge strides these last few years to be where he is at,” Ruiz said. “His development as a player has been more than the technical skills needed to play, but he has also grown in the tactical and knowledge aspect of the game. He has also developed into a leader on the field which is a big reason he is one of our team captains this year. He is my coach on the field and does a tremendous job of leading the team.”

Teammate senior Uriel Murillo Bustamaante has seen Yanni develop as a player over the years they’ve been playing together and notices his impact on the team.

“Yanni started running faster and helps out the team more mentally and always makes sure everyone is stable,” Uriel said. “He calms everyone down, is very supportive, and always gives his best.”

The soccer team has grown close and built bonds that they will never forget.

“We try to spend time together outside of school and outside of the sport,” Yanni said. “We have really good chemistry and we all like each other, so it’s easy to play on the field together.” 

Yanni’s season has so far been successful not only for school but also for his club team, he also acknowledges the success of his teammates.

“We are doing pretty good this season and with my club team we had a really good season.” Yanni said. “Some of my teammates are getting recruited, and it makes me happy to see them advance.”