posted 2012-11-21 20:55:43

Understanding the Student Athlete

Featuring Erick Estrada, captain of the men’s soccer team  

Stephie-Anne Dulipre

Staff Writer

A native of El Salvador, Erick Estrada came to live in the United States at the age of twelve. In a country where soccer is the number one sport, it is very hard to grow up without a desire to be a part of it. “I always had love for the sport,” Estrada said. “I’d watch my dad and uncles play all the time when I was little.” Both his uncle and his father were big influences on Erick. Unfortunately, his chance to play didn’t come until he was thirteen. “I wasn’t allowed to play [soccer] because my mother was afraid I’d get hurt.” Had his mother known the influence the sport would have on her son today, maybe she wouldn’t have been so hesitant to let him play.

Regardless of how long it took him to get involved in soccer, Estrada was not discouraged or set back in his development when he did start to play. Only one year after moving to the U.S., in what can seem like a whole new world to many young kids, Estrada had already joined a soccer team. He was all-league in high school, and by his junior year he was getting a swarm of college recruiters at his doorstep. He admits, however, that “soccer wasn’t [a] priority at the time.”
Upon graduating high school, he decided to attend Bergen Community College in his home state of New Jersey. After earning his associate’s degree, Erick decided to come to Hunter, awakening nostalgia for the sport he still loved. Having made the decision to play soccer at the collegiate level, Estrada contacted former Hunter coach Jose Cedeno, and not long after that, he was continuing his soccer career with the Hawks.

Estrada is in the middle of his second season at Hunter, and he’s already leaving his mark with peers, coaches, and the athletic staff. Assistant Athletic Director Stephanie Thorburn said that Erick is “the kind of guy you want to write about.” On a regular weekday during soccer season, Erick wakes up at 5 a.m. to be at Randall’s Island by 7 a.m. for soccer practice, followed by class until 3 or 4 p.m. After class is over, he rushes to get back to New Jersey so he can drive to work,  where he stays until around midnight. “I go to sleep around 1 a.m. so I can do it all over again the next day,” Estrada said. This seems like an impossible schedule to most, but Estrada makes it work. It seems appropriate that his favorite quote is one by Mohandas Gandhi: “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”
Despite Erick’s determination and perseverance, we all can be challenged by crazy schedules and heavy workloads. “I deal with the stress on the soccer field,” Estrada said. “I’d say that’s one of the reasons I play as hard as I do. The soccer field is my sanctuary. I believe if you are going to make a big sacrifice, you might as well do it the best as possible.”

He confesses that his family and God are his greatest motivators. Like many other families, Erick’s family expects him to be successful. That is his “fuel,” he said. Having been raised by only his mother most of his life, he admits he just wants to make her proud. As captain of the soccer team, Estrada undoubtedly has made his mother proud already. “It’s an honor to be a captain because I get to represent Hunter Soccer on the field. I’m aware that I’m not the most vocal guy, but I’m confident. I lead by example,” he said.

After graduating from Hunter with a degree in economics, Estrada hopes to continue on to graduate school. He

had always wanted to be a detective, but currently has his mind set on working for the FBI. Erick’s dreams are big, and with the all the blood, sweat and determination he pours into his life here at Hunter, there is no doubt he will go on to do great things.