THE SEMINOLE NEWSPAPER

SEMINOLE SOCCER STAR SCORES HIS WAY INTO CHAPEL HILL

Raul+Aguilera+will+be+playing+on+the+men%27s+soccer+team+at+UNC+Chapel+Hill.
Raul Aguilera will be playing on the men's soccer team at UNC Chapel Hill.

Raul Aguilera will be playing on the men's soccer team at UNC Chapel Hill.

Photo contributed

Photo contributed

Raul Aguilera will be playing on the men's soccer team at UNC Chapel Hill.

Megana Vonguru, Reporter

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Soccer has been a part of Raul Aguilera’s life ever since he was born. His father, Raul Aguilera Sr. moved from Mexico to Florida to play for the Orlando Sundogs. Though the team ended up folding, the family decided to stay and raise a family. Aguilera started playing himself when he was 6 years old. Not really taking to the sport, Aguilera quit after a year and a half. However, he decided to give it another shot, shortly after a few months. This decision would change his life forever.

“Somewhere along the road, I started playing again and I haven’t stopped since. I’m glad I went back to it, I don’t know what I would be doing now if I wasn’t playing soccer,” said Aguilera.

Now 17, Aguilera has been playing for more than 11 years and has signed on to play as a Tarheel for University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). UNC is currently ranked as number two for men’s soccer in the country. UNC, which is ranked 30 nationally academic-wise, is a difficult school to get into with a 26 percent acceptance rate. Aguilera has had to balance regular school work along with his hectic soccer schedule, with practice every day and games on the weekends.  In addition to training from 4:30-6:30 every day, Aguilera usually trains on the side at the gym.

“It’s such an honor to sign with them. They have an amazing team and I’m really looking forward to playing this fall,” said Aguilera. “It’s hard to balance with school. I’m always tired but I have a set routine. After practice is strictly set for homework so I have to rush to make sure that I get everything done, but I’ve been able to balance it so far.”

Soccer players at Seminole High school have been vocal about Aguilera’s success.

Seminole Soccer Captain Connor Fogelman said, “It’s incredible how hard he works to make sure that he succeeds in both school and soccer. His accomplishments have me in awe. I see him constantly working hard and I know he is going to do big things at UNC.”

Aguilera started playing for the U.S National team a few years ago, when he was spotted by some scouts. Since then he has played for the U-16 and now he plays for the U-18 team, which has allowed him to travel all around the world to compete in tournaments. Aguilera has played in tournaments in Turkey, Italy, Netherlands, and England.

Playing soccer means Aguilera has little time for other things. When asked about other hobbies, Aguilera said that he doesn’t really have any other interests other than soccer.

I don’t really do anything. I don’t really have any hobbies outside of it, it’s pretty time-consuming. It becomes like a passion to the point where I’m walking and thinking about it. It’s my choice not to do anything else. But, I like ping pong. Ping pong is fun.”

Aguilera hopes that 10 years from now he will be playing professionally for either Orlando City or in Europe.  However, he has a backup plan just in case. He plans on majoring in either business management or architecture. While he says that he hopes that it doesn’t have to come to him working in either of those fields, he is prepared if soccer does not work out.

His biggest soccer inspirations are Xabi Alonso and Andres Iniesta because one plays in his position and he learned from watching him play and the other because he is extremely talented with a soccer ball.

“My advice to everyone is just to dream big and work hard. Practice and dedication will get you far. When I first started, I would have never expected to see myself where I am today,” said Aguilera.

With Aguilera having much success at such a young age, there’s no doubt that Seminole High will see him again in the professional soccer world.

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