A MILLION DREAMS
“My dream is to play for the U.S. Women’s National team.”
Every child involved in athletics at some point in time dreams of reaching the professional ranks. But not many understand or are willing to undergo the grueling work, discipline, and sacrifice that creates those mesmerizing performers that we see on the big stages, glistening under the bright lights.
And it all begins with a dream. As Walt Disney so famously stated, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” But early on for Ariana, as a young girl, she faced challenges different than her peers at Woodland Elementary school. She couldn’t speak the language and found it difficult trying to learn at first spending most of her time in ESL classes.
“Spanish is my first language. My parents didn’t speak good English back then. I remember how difficult it was to communicate when I entered kindergarten,” Ariana said. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a Mexican mother and Spanish father, Ariana relocated to Johnson City, Tennessee, at age 7. By that point, she was already an adept soccer player introduced to the sport by her father at the fledging age of four. Her father, a former semi-pro soccer player, put his career on hold to help raise the family, and for Ariana, he has always been her biggest role model.
When her father was a teenager, he relocated from Spain to Mexico, where he met Ariana’s mother. They eventually immigrated to the United States from Acapulco, Mexico. Ariana has traveled multiple times to Mexico and particularly loves the beautiful beaches. The warm fluffy sand and the swaying palms, the discos, and the relaxed atmosphere take one back to the Hollywood glitz years when Acapulco was a hotbed for celebrity sightings and extravagant parties that would make Jay Gatsby blush.
Ariana excelled at soccer, as well as academically, she was a shining star at Science Hill High School and when it came time to decide on a college there was no shortage of offers. She had initially committed to a school nearby before visiting the King campus and immediately changed her mind. “When I came to King, I loved the atmosphere,” she said. “It was a small, close-knit community and that is what I was looking for.”
She says being able to build relationships with her professors and have the one-on-one learning experience when needed has made a huge difference in her development. She also says about being at King, “You have so much freedom here.” Ariana is the first in her family to go to college. But she mentioned that the transition from high school to college wasn’t very difficult, in part because of the warmth and friendliness of the students, faculty, and staff.
On the field, her role model, aside from her father, was always Mallory Pugh of the U.S. Women’s National Team. “My dream is to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team,” she says. “Mallory is so creative on the field and is never happy when she is comfortable.” Ariana indicates that she thrives being in an environment where she is out of her comfort zone. Though she wants to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team, she would also be open to playing in Mexico as well.
For new recruits coming to King Ariana says, “You are taken care of and everyone is very nice and generous. Getting to know people, talking to people, and making friends is easy here at King.” Ariana’s upbeat personality, hard-driving work ethic, discipline, and focus are what will take her to the next stages of her life where she will no doubt thrive wherever she ends up. If that isn’t soccer then she will pursue a doctorate in physical therapy and help athletes train and become successful. She represents the kind of student that King attracts and helps to develop into responsible, resourceful, citizens of the world.