We begin our SOYSAF 210 AWAY with Rocky Perez. An absolute talent of a player that already at such young age making name for himself on the national stage. We first meet Rocky in 2016 during the infancy of the SAFC pro Academy with then San Antonio Youth Soccer Godfather Nick Evans and Ryan Roushandel working some young ballers. The kid then, is now a D1 University of South Carolina player and already made a summer with Atlanta United II. We get to know more about Rocky and is journey here in SOYSAF 210 Away.
How did you start getting into Soccer?
Both my parents played division one sports and so originally it looked like i’d either play basketball or football because that’s what my parents played, but my dad played indoor soccer when I was very young, and I went out and tried it with him and fell in love with it ever since.
Family is everything, how big has it been having their support for your talent and passion?
My family is everything, my parents have sacrificed so much for me to get to the point I am today and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. I do what I do because I love the game and because of my family. They always push to be better and be the best I can be. They have supported me every which way throughout the journey and I couldn’t be happier they did.
Rocky, soccer has been part of your life since you were a child. Share with us a little bit of your soccer up-bringing and San Antonio childhood soccer memories.
I’m originally from El Paso, Texas and grew up there and started my soccer journey in the 915. My dad is originally from San Antonio so we always had family here in the city. Eventually me and my parents knew if I really wanted to make it in this game, we’d have to relocate and find somewhere I could thrive in soccer. San Antonio FC was starting an academy and Coach Nick Evans connected with my dad and before we knew it we were relocating to San Antonio.
In 2016 San Antonio FC and USL arrived to SA, a Pro Academy was announced. What was your experience there like the good and bad.
The academy was great! Nick Evans, Ryan Roshandal, Juan LaMadrid, Tim Chesney, Oscar Munoz, and Jeremiah Narvaez, the whole staff played a part in my development to where I am now. I was really fortunate to be able to work with such a passionate group of people to better myself in soccer. The academy provided a great pathway for me to train and play in a professional environment. At 15 I was introduced to the first team with Coach Darren Powell and continued through Coach Alan Marcina. That experience really helped me reach a high level and get a taste of the professional game.
There was really no negative in my experience with the academy, I loved every second of it. It gave me the opportunity to per-sue a division one college and play professionally. I grew life long friends with my teammates and will have connections with the staff forever.
The only thing I could say is as the staff changes and the model of the academy changes. I hope the opportunity for young players to be implemented with the USL remains and the talent in SA can stay in the academy to thrive without seeking help from other clubs. I know the pay to play model is necessary to keep the academy afloat but I think soccer should be for everybody, and everyone that deserves to play at a high level academy shouldn’t have to compensate to play the beautiful game at a high level.
What influences have impacted your soccer career thus far?
Of course, my family. My parents have guided me every step of the way. Coach Nick Evans helped me a lot along the way. He coached me through the academy and in the first team and provided me assistance throughout the recruiting process.
You have been doing a little Atlanta II time, how were you able to get to that level.
I wanted a different experience heading into college. My college coach was the ex-academy director for Atlanta United and he knew of my experience with USL. He setup a training stint for about 3 months before I arrived for college. It was a great experience!
You have now signed with D1 University of South Carolina, how has that experience been for you?
It’s been great so far. The school is awesome and the soccer has been very good. We’re about to kick off the fall season, we just played our first exhibition game vs Duke. I started the game and played about 70 minutes. The staff here is top class and is providing the most similar to professional environment at a collegiate level possible.
For the young person reading this in San Antonio, what advice can you give as far as working to obtain a D1 offer, ID camps and “must do” to continue on their soccer path.
My recruiting process was the hardest decision i’ve ever made. The biggest step I did to reach out to schools was make a highlight video. I made sure to include all the high profile games I played with San Antonio FC in my film to show coaches my experience in the game. My top options were University of South Carolina, Wake Forrest, Clemson, UCLA, Notre Dame.
What have been some of the obstacles that you have faced during your young soccer journey.
My junior year of high school heading into first team preseason I broke my tibia. It was one of the hardest points in my soccer career. I had never faced adversity like this before, the game was taken away from me. With a lot of hard work, the help from my family and God, I was able to recover, come back stronger and a better soccer player.
What changes need to happen in San Antonio to continue to improve soccer in this city?
I would love to see more of a backing from the city to the professional soccer atmosphere within the city. Either that be recruiting MLS to San Antonio or placing a stronger support within the city to our USL team.
For the youth, I would love to see more of a focus on development of young talent through the various clubs of San Antonio. The youth are the future of this game in our Country. San Antonio has talent that can be showcased on a world stage. The pay to play model is not for everyone. Soccer is for everyone.
Keep catching up with more 210 Away athletes here on Soy San Antonio Fùtbol.
Rocky is an amazing player, we saw him grow and become a great player. Very happy to see him thriving. We wish him the best.