Lincoln grad gets call from Athletes International
By Kurt Voigt News Messenger Correspondent
At 20 years old, Uriel Moreno had earned many awards and accolades in his youth soccer career. He played recreation, competition, and high school soccer in Lincoln and during those years gravitated to higher and tougher challenges. Each level of competition was met with open-eyed determination. But nothing foreseen had prepared him for his current honor and distinguishable invitation.
In October, Moreno received a letter from USA Athletes International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving amateur athletes an opportunity to foster international goodwill and friendship among nations, while also promoting the game. With the exception of the U.S. Olympic program, there are few opportunities for athletes to experience the competition, history and culture of other countries on an international level.
The Costa Rican Soccer Partnerships have selected USA Athletes International as the sponsoring organization to represent the United States in the 2012 Costa Rican Soccer Series in Costa Rico in May. The U.S. team was scheduled for four games in group play from which they can advance to the finals.
Moreno grew up in Lincoln, went to Creekside, and First Street Elementary school and then onto Glen Edwards Middle School and Lincoln High School. He started his soccer career in recreation when he was 6 years old, and by the time he was 8 played for Placer United Competition Club soccer. He was the team captain for Placer United for six years, and was ranked 10th in the nation in 2008.
His high school career was sprinkled with some of the most prestigious awards a high school athlete could ever receive. He made the varsity soccer team in his sophomore year. In 2006, the varsity soccer team won the league title, and the Fighting Zebras also went to the sectional playoffs in his sophomore, junior, and senior years. During that time he was also selected First Team All-League, and in his senior year was league MVP.
At William Jessup University, Moreno is in his sophomore year studying psychology on a half-scholarship he received in soccer. Last year, he led the CalPac conference in scoring and in points with five goals and two assists as a freshman. He was a CalPac honorable mention his freshman year.
Moreno loves soccer and wants to pursue his masters after he receives his BA in psychology and coach soccer.
"I think that I was blessed with great coaches growing up that taught me the game of soccer, but also helped me grow as an individual," Moreno said. "I hope that I could help pass on what I have learned from my coaches to the players that I may coach in the future."
Moreno said he chose to study psychology because he wants to work with the youth. He feels there are a lot of distractions that can send a young person down the wrong path.
The letter Moreno received from USA Athletes International is a letter to join the team, and not to try out. Only 16 players from across the nation were selected to be a part of this team, and all were recommended by their high school and club competition soccer team coaches. It's a prestigious honor to be selected to be a part of this special competition.
Moreno stands as an example of how an athlete, even from a small town, can use the passion, love, desire, and skill for a sport to achieve a great honor.
Perhaps Nelson Mandela said it best, "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair."