By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Inside the McKay gym Wednesday afternoon, the two friends of Alejandra Angel and Lesly Bermudez-Herrera were getting ready to sign their Letters of Intent to play for Corban University Women’s Soccer program just on the south side of town about five or six miles from where they were standing.
“Honestly just enjoying it and I’m playing with my best friend Lesly, so I’m going to enjoy,” said Angel, who’s going to major in Exercise Science with the goal of becoming a physical therapist. “It’s really cool because we’ve been friends for four years and we’ve been best friends ever since on the field and off the field and we’ve been captains together so it’s been amazing and I know it’s something that I’m going to value for the rest of my life.”
For Bermudez-Herrera, who said with a smile as she called her and Angel a dynamic duo thanks in part to how they played together.
“From day one we played just like each other, we were like a packaged deal,” said Bermudez-Herrera. “Like I don’t have to say anything and she knows where I’m going to be and where I want the ball and vica versa.”
This moment for Bermudez-Herrera has been a long-time coming as a diagnosis a few months ago forced the senior to hang-up her cleats and to step away from the sport she loves in order to get healthy again.
And to think, several months after stepping away from the game, to have this opportunity to rally back and get a chance to continue her playing career as she described her journey back to health.
“I was diagnosed with mental disorders a few months ago so I couldn’t play soccer because of my anxiety and my depression, so i decided that I needed to get myself better and in order to do that I had to quit,” starts Bermudez-Herrera on the personal issue. “There was no way I could play and handle that at the same time, so I let it go all together.
“After a lot of test were done and after my doctors reviewed it, they said that if I wanted to, I could play and that’s when I contacted (Corban Head Women’s Coach) Likius (Hafeni) and I had a try-out. Once he told me, ‘this is what I’m offering you’, I didn’t even hesitate I just took it.”
As she, like Angel, signed on the dotted-line, Bermudez-Herrera’s progression to get back to this point of getting healthy, getting to the point where she was standing next to her best friend and being able to say that she gets to play the sport she’s played since she was little and working towards this moment is crazy.
“It’s crazy, it really is,” said Bermudez-Herrera. “It’s really crazy because a few months ago, I didn’t even see myself here. I didn’t see myself in this world honestly, so it was like…for me to go from being at a low self-esteem-state to being here, wanting this more than ever because this is what I’ve been working for since I was little. The fact that I have this right here, right now, it’s like…it feels really unreal.”
As for making the most of her moment now, the Athletic Training-major said that she just has to train hard in order to show her team now what she’s made of.
“Right now, I just have to work ten-times harder than I ever have and then when I start training with the team I have to show what I’m really I got and really, really just train until I can’t anymore and to keep going,” said Bermudez-Herrera.
For Bermudez-Herrera’s teammate in Angel, for her getting to this point of being able to lacing up the cleats again is something pretty cool considering she thought her playing days may have been over.
“Honestly, it wasn’t my choice to play soccer, I didn’t think it was going to happen in college so it was exciting just choosing it and it’s going to be educational as well,” said Angel. “So to think I’m combining my favorite as well as education with the sport I love, it’s amazing.”
In the crowd off to the side of the crowd of about 20 or so, was former McKay Head Coach Arturo Alfaro, who had coached the girls prior to this past soccer season and took a picture or two with the girls towards the end of the ceremony as he expressed how proud he is of his former athletes.
“I’m proud of them. I’m really proud of them,” said Alfaro. “They accomplished a lot, they worked really hard to get to where they’re at right now and this is just the beginning. This is just the beginning of a long journey ahead of them and I know they’ll succeed very much.”
For current-Scots Girls Soccer coach Katie Satre, she’s watching her second and third athlete’s commit to a college with Zendy Garibay committing a few weeks ago, and the fact that athlete’s in her program are taking the next step shows the girls returning for her that they can do it like Garibay, Angel and Bermudez-Herrera have.
“This is my first year so they’re my first athletes, I’ve had one more before signed Zendy and it’s just absolutely amazing,” starts Satre. “It opens those doors, it opens the doors for the younger girls to see like, ‘we can actually do this. We’re moving on’ and having that support in soccer for them, their going to have that comfort in college which is a really big deal for them and it’s also awesome that their close because we can go to all of their games and watch them!.”