In search of an activity that would be a good fit for their granddaughter, Kris Nguyen’s grandparents introduced her to a variety of different sports. It was soccer that became her favorite.
“I started when I was about four years old,” says Nguyen of playing soccer. “My grandparents wanted to see what kind of sports I liked…so they put me in different sports, like basketball, tennis and soccer. It seems like I just stuck with soccer. I liked it the most.”
The Cornelia Connelly High School sophomore is in her second year as a varsity player for the Koalas and has found her place as left fullback. Nguyen feels the most confident when playing defense, and she has enjoyed the unique experience of playing at the high school level.
“I really love soccer because I think it’s about the competitiveness, and …I get to meet new people. I have new friends,” says Nguyen. “Now that I’m in high school, it’s even better because I get to play with my classmates.”
Her determination and aggressive play on the field serves as motivation for both her teammates and her coaches.
“Kris is a very talented player,” says Connelly head soccer coach, Evelyn Gomez. “She’s the type of player that when sets her mind to something, she will definitely achieve it. This characteristic will take Kris a long way in life. I’m very honored to be able to coach her, and I’m excited to see her grow more in the upcoming seasons.”
Nguyen admits that she and her teammates can get caught up in the comparison game when it comes to facing tougher opponents. But the 16-year-old has found that focusing her own play instead of the play of others keeps her on the right track.
“Now I tell myself, ‘They might be a little bit more skilled than you, but you have your own skill. Just think about what you’re good at,’” says Nguyen.
A long-time participant in the Girl Scouts of America, Nguyen is in the process of working on her Gold Award. She is considering a career in the medical field, and keeps her prayers before and after each game focused on the health and safety of her teammates and opponents.
“When we play a game, the most important thing that I pray for is that no one gets hurt,” says the Downey resident. “I hope at the end of the game we all stay good and healthy.”
Her grandmother, who came to the United States from Vietnam during the Vietnam War, continues to inspire Nguyen.
“She came to America not knowing one word of English, and she worked very hard [to get] where she is now,” says Nguyen. “All that motivation that came from her was passed down to her kids. I hope I can gather their motivation and that it rubs off on me.”