Six young women in red soccer uniforms holding signs, balloons and more.

Kennedy Girls Soccer Seniors Reflect After Difficult Year: ‘Every Loss Is a Win’

Six young women in red soccer uniforms holding signs, flowers and balloons.

The Kennedy girls soccer team celebrated its outgoing seniors June 2 during its final game of the season.

Story and photos by Denis Perez-Bravo

The Kennedy High School girls soccer team, headed by coach Yaqueline Valencia, provides a space for young people to experience sports, camaraderie and hard work.

Their 1-9 season ended with a loss to Pinole Valley High School last week, but for the girls in the program, “every loss is a win.”

That is because the girls learn something about themselves, their teammates and soccer every time they step out on the field, midfielder Gabriela Medrano said.

The Richmond Pulse asked five outgoing Kennedy seniors what soccer has meant to them in their high school careers.

 

Adela Calderon, Defender

What’s next: Will attend Sacramento State

RP: What did soccer mean to your senior year?

AC: Without soccer, my senior year wouldn’t have been complete. You know, with COVID, we didn’t get to have a prom or regular graduation.

RP: What does being a Kennedy Eagle mean to you?

AC: Being an Eagle, to me, shows our courage. People always try to look down on Kennedy, and that is why we try to show up and show out.

RP: What will you most miss about playing soccer at Kennedy?

AC: I will miss the nerves you get when you step into the pitch and have to wait for the referee to blow the whistle.

RP: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen who want to get into athletics at Kennedy?

AC: Do not give up, even through injuries. Get checked for your injuries. Do not be like me, because your season can be over. Treat your injuries as your priority.

 

Gabriela Medrano, Midfielder

What’s next: Will attend Contra Costa College

RP: What did soccer mean to your senior year?

GM: It was very important. It is part of me, of who I am. Playing soccer takes my problems away.

RP: What does being a Kennedy Eagle mean to you?

GM: It means everything. This is my school.

RP: What will you most miss about playing soccer at Kennedy?

GM: I will miss the fun experiences and making new friends. I had to learn how to be on a team, play as a team and trust my teammates.

RP: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen who want to get into athletics at Kennedy?

GM: Believe in yourself. Every loss is a win, and every time you play, you learn something. And know your worth.

 

Kimberly Hernandez, Midfielder

What’s next: Will attend UC Irvine

RP: What did soccer mean to your senior year?

KH: It has allowed me to keep in touch with my friends.

RP: What does being a Kennedy Eagle mean to you?

KH: It is a privilege. My older sister went to and played for Kennedy, so it is like a legacy.

RP: What will you most miss about playing soccer at Kennedy?

KH: I will miss the people I met. They have made this whole high school experience so much better.

RP: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen who want to get into athletics at Kennedy?

KH: It is OK if you do not have the skills at first. There are wonderful coaches here.

 

Monica Jimenez, Midfielder

What’s next: Will attend UC Santa Barbara

RP: What did soccer mean to your senior year?

MJ: It has been my whole high school experience since sophomore year. Without it, I wouldn’t have had anything to do after school or look forward to in the year.

RP: What does being a Kennedy Eagle mean to you?

MJ: I love being an Eagle. All my family has come here, cousins from both sides, so it is a family tradition.

RP: What will you most miss about playing soccer at Kennedy?

MJ: I will miss playing soccer and getting close to everyone.

RP: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen who want to get into athletics at Kennedy?

MJ: Definitely join one of the sports teams. Even if you are shy at first, everyone is super friendly. I was really shy, but playing soccer has helped me get more out of my comfort zone.

 

Alondra Carmona, Defender

What’s next: Will attend UC Davis

RP: What did soccer mean to your senior year?

AC: It was all of my senior year. I didn’t get a proper year, so with soccer, I was able to socialize and see my friends.

RP: What does being a Kennedy Eagle mean to you?

AC: To be an Eagle is to represent this school that I consider my home. I have been here for four years and it has opened up doors and so many paths to my career goals.

RP: What will you most miss about playing soccer at Kennedy?

AC: I will miss everything. A little of everything. You get used to your routine and knowing you will play soccer. So I will miss a little bit of everything.

RP: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen who want to get into athletics at Kennedy?

AC: I came into high school without knowing anything about soccer. So don’t worry about the comments of people. Just do you.

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