A four-year starter on Central Valley High School’s varsity boys soccer team, Isaac Juarez celebrated a major milestone in his life on April 26 when he signed a national letter of intent with Stanislaus State.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “I started playing soccer when I was 7. I’ve always enjoyed the sport. But it felt like a chore when I was 10 and 11. I’m glad I stayed committed and never stopped playing. This is a great opportunity.”
Juarez had to stage his signing ceremony at home due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
He celebrated his latest accomplishment with his parents, Cesar and Cristina, and younger siblings, Isaiah (10), Adrian (7) and Alexia (3).
“My parents pushed me to be a good student. If I didn’t perform in class, they wouldn’t let me play. I’m trying to be the best role model I can be for my brothers and sister.”Isaac Juarez
“My parents pushed me to be a good student,” said Juarez, who has a cumulative GPA of 3.8 at Central Valley and plans to pursue a career in the medical field after he graduates from college. “If I didn’t perform in class, they wouldn’t let me play. I’m trying to be the best role model I can be for my brothers and sister.”
Juarez committed to Stanislaus State after weighing his options.
“That’s where I wanted to go,” he said. “If you would have asked me a couple months ago, Stanislaus State wouldn’t have crossed my mind. I was planning on going to Sacramento State to focus on academics. A lot changed after I toured the school (Stanislaus State) in March and really liked it. Everything about it was nice. And it’s closer to home. A lot of people will be able to come watch me play.”
Stanislaus State compiled a 4-13 record and finished in 12th place in the CCAA standings (1-11) this past season.
“I’ve been in touch with my coach and a couple of other committed players,” Juarez said. “It’s up to us to stay active. I’ve been training with college athletes. I’m preparing myself. As of right now, I’m going to be an attacking midfielder. I’m sure I’ll get to battle for playing time.”
Juarez developed into a star player under Central Valley head coach Omar Leon’s guidance.
“He saw something in me when he watched me play for the first time in eighth grade,” Juarez said. “I’m very grateful in that. He’s been a good coach.”
Juarez was named Most Valuable Player of the Central California Conference during his final season with the Hawks.
He followed in the footsteps of past Central Valley standouts to earn MVP honors, including Andres Velasquez (2017), Ozzie Ramos (2013, 2012), Daniel Ochoa (2011), Gerardo Cazares (2010), Jose Ramirez (2009) and Eddy Salinas (2006).
Juarez collected seven goals and two assists for the CCC-champion Hawks.
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment,” he said. “It’s not just about the talent. When it comes to soccer, Central Valley has a lot of passionate players that are willing to put in the work.”
“I wouldn’t say I met my expectations,” he added. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Juarez matured mentally and physically each season.
“My freshman year was a game-changer for me,” he said. “Playing soccer with older guys boosted my confidence. As you get older, you get wiser.”
Juarez played four seasons of varsity soccer at Central Valley.
He earned second-team all-league honors his junior and sophomore years.
The Hawks amassed a 71-25-14 overall record, advanced to the section finals three times and claimed two conference titles.
“Central Valley has a special place in my heart when it comes to soccer,” Juarez said. “The friendships and bonds you create throughout the years. Our practices are intense. Players are trying to prove themselves and earn playing time. Coach teaches us to all be leaders.”