Andres “Andy” Velasquez’s life would be much different if it wasn’t for soccer.
A first-generation college student, 23-year-old Velasquez graduated from UC Davis in December.
He wrapped up his athletic career with the Aggies in November.
“College was amazing,” Velasquez said. “I had a blast. I met cool people. Balancing everything was extremely challenging. My days were long. I surprised myself. I wasn’t expecting what I got. But I worked hard for it. Soccer changed my life for the better.”
Determined to play soccer at the Division-I college level, Velasquez made academics a priority at Central Valley High School.
His hard work inside the classroom and on the field helped him earn a scholarship to UC Davis.
“I wasn’t the best student,” Velasquez said. “Teachers hated me. I’d do stupid stuff. I didn’t know any better. My transcript looked super bad. My freshman year at Ceres High School I had a 1.5 GPA. The month of October I went to school just seven days. I had to use my waiver so I could play soccer the next year.”
Velasquez had a 3.5 grade-point average when he applied to college.
“Everything I didn’t like to do, I had to do because I wanted to play Division-I soccer,” he said. “I started going to school, paying attention and doing the work. I went from getting D’s and F’s to getting A’s and B’s.”
Velasquez was a member of the UC Davis men’s soccer team from 2017-22.
“Not every player gets to wear the captain band,” he said. “I did that. I was a key player on the best team we’ve had. I feel I left my mark. I never missed a practice. I showed up on time to everything. I impacted the program. The soccer part came easy. It didn’t feel like work. I enjoyed my time. It was a great experience.”
Velasquez served as team captain during his final year with the Aggies this past season.
“It wasn’t just given to me,” he said. “I had to earn it. My teammates looked up to me.”
“I worked extremely hard all season. I didn’t have more than three days off the whole year. All I did was train every day. It wasn’t enough.”Andres “Andy” Velasquez
“I worked extremely hard all season,” Velasquez added. “I didn’t have more than three days off the whole year. All I did was train every day. It wasn’t enough.”
Velasquez started all 18 games at holding midfielder for UC Davis, which posted a 5-9-4 overall record and finished in third place in the Big West Conference standings (4-3-2).
The fifth-seeded Aggies lost 3-2 to the Cal State Northridge Matadors in the first round of the league tournament.
Velasquez earned honorable-mention, all-conference recognition.
Velasquez delayed his college graduation after he was granted an extra year of athletic eligibility.
All student-athletes whose 2020 spring sports seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic were given additional years of competition.
“The reason why I came back was because I wanted to win,” Velasquez said. “My goal was to win the NCAA College Cup. That was the plan. I wanted to win another Big West championship ring. We fell short. It just didn’t go our way. We had a young team. It was a completely new team.”
Velasquez started 19 of 20 games in 2021.
He established new career-highs in goals (5), points (12), assists (2) and shots on goal (11).
He tied for third on the team in goals scored and ranked fourth in points.
He was a Big West Conference honorable-mention selection.
Velasquez was named UC Davis’ Most Valuable Player.
The Aggies finished 9-10-1 on the year and fourth in league play (4-4-1).
Fifth-seeded UC Davis lost 1-0 in double overtime to top-seeded UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament.
Velasquez filled a key role as UC Davis qualified for the NCAA Division-I Tournament for just the third time in program history, compiled a 13-5-2 overall record and claimed the Big West Conference Tournament title for the first time in 2019.
He collected three goals, including two game-winners, and one assist while starting all 20 games.
Velasquez broke a scoreless tie 10 minutes into the second half as the top-seeded Aggies pulled away for a 2-0 victory against second-seeded UC Santa Barbara in the Big West Conference championship game.
“I’ll always remember that,” said Velasquez, a second-team all-league center defensive midfielder.
Velasquez earned the trust of his coaches and an active spot on UC Davis’ roster in 2018.
He played in 17 games before suffering a season-ending injury.
He fractured his right foot while contributing at right defender in fifth-seeded UC Davis’ 4-2 penalty-kick shootout loss to second-seeded UC Riverside in the finals of the Big West Conference Tournament.
Velasquez scored three goals on the year.
He was selected to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team.
His first career goal came against San Jose State. Velasquez’s header propelled the Aggies to a 3-2 win over the Spartans.
He tallied the fourth-fastest goal in UC Davis’ history in a 2-1 victory against Cal State Fullerton. He found the back of the net just 54 seconds into the contest.
Velasquez and UC Davis upset top-seeded UC Irvine 6-5 on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Big West Championship Tournament. He converted one of the Aggies’ PKs. He played center midfielder.
UC Davis finished 11-4-5 overall and fifth overall in the Big West standings.
The Aggies fell one win shy of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Velasquez was limited to just practicing with the Aggies as a redshirt freshman. UC Davis (11-7-3) lost 4-3 in a penalty-kick shootout to Cal State Fullerton in the Big West finals.
“The transition was insane,” said Velasquez, who had a 2.1 GPA fall quarter freshman year. “Once I got used to it, it became easier. I use soccer as motivation to do the work. Soccer is my life. It got me to one of the best public colleges in the country.”
Velasquez graduated from UC Davis on Dec. 10. He earned a degree in managerial economics with a minor in accounting.
“The money and career are there if I want it,” said Velasquez, who plans to pursue a career in pharmaceutical technology sales or real estate investment. “I’ve been offered jobs. But I want to chase my dream (of playing professional soccer). I’d be upset with myself if I didn’t try. I don’t want to have any regrets. All I can do is keep working hard. Hopefully, an opportunity will come.”
Velasquez played four seasons of varsity soccer in high school, including his final two at Central Valley.
Velasquez, a 2017 CV grad, had a combined 35 goals and 16 assists his senior and junior years.
He developed into one of the Hawks’ all-time greatest players.
Velasquez’s production earned him Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player honors during his final year with the Hawks.
The standout forward led the WAC in scoring with 24 goals. He ranked third in assists (9).
Central Valley amassed a 20-7-3 overall record and advanced to the finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff tournament.