“It took a little bit of convincing on my part but, eventually, they let me do soccer,” senior goalkeeper Zander Ortega said. After spending most of his childhood playing baseball, Ortega began taking an interest in playing soccer several years ago.
It was a challenge for him to try and get his parents to let him switch sports, but he eventually was able to. The reason for this new peak of interest was seeing how much fun he had playing soccer at recess.
“I was never good enough, I was last picked and it was that kind of being looked down on that I didn’t want to have anymore. So I decided I wanted to keep playing and show people I was more capable than what they thought,” Ortega said.
Back in 2017, shortly after he started playing the sport, his club team made it to the state cup.
“In the semi-finals, I had an amazing save in the top left corner, it was awesome. The team that we were playing against started celebrating before I even saved it,” Ortega said. They eventually went on to win the state cup that year. Ortega is now the varsity team’s main goalkeeper.
Other times students didn’t always have a choice to play a certain sport; that was senior Conner Autry’s case with football.
“My dad just kinda threw me into it,” Autry said, although he was inspired by his older brother who played. Autry is the center and has been playing for quite some time. “I did the math the other day, it has been nine or 10 years,” Autry said. He used to play for Centennial but moved to Sandy for last year’s season.
“I just transferred out here last year and to come out here and feel like I’m a part of something and beat Barlow for the first time in 21 years that was pretty cool,” Autry said about his favorite moment this year.
Senior Cinthya Bautista Gutierrez started her sport, water polo, after being inspired by a friend of a friend.
“I got into water polo because I had a friend who had a brother that played, and I wanted to try something new,” Bautista Gutierrez said. She has played all four years of high school and is in the midst of her final season.
“At first I was really wary of the sport because I saw all these players swimming like crazy, and I kept thinking to myself: ‘that’s some incredible lung capacity,’” Bautista Gutierrez said.
While also being a talented artist, Bautista Gutierrez survived the tough training and essence of the sport throughout her high school career. “I’ve learned a lot about mental strength and perseverance through playing the brutal sport,” Bautista Gutierrez said.
Athletes in all sports got their start somehow, either willingly or being pushed into it, but they have faced challenges and made great memories while overcoming obstacles.