Mamaroneck's Velez is All-American in Girls Soccer

by Judy Silberstein; photography by falphotography.com

(January 22, 2009) Mamaroneck High School’s Stephanie Velez was among the 70 All-American girl soccer players from across the country who were honored at a luncheon in St. Louis, Missouri hosted by the National Soccer Coaches Association on Saturday, January 17.

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This is the second MHS All-American of the school year. Swimmer Kelly Johanson, a sophomore, has already qualified in the 500 yard freestyle and is being considered for the 200. (See: Larchmont Swimmer is Sole MHS Athlete With A Chance at States.)

So what did Stephanie Velez do with the plaque she received in ST. Louis? “I gave the award to the school to have it framed,” the MHS senior told the Gazette. “The new players will be able to see that the school has as an All-American.”

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“I’ve been playing since forever – just because I wanted to,” said Ms. Velez. “Being recognized for it has made it so much better.”

Ms. Velez, who played forward and midfield on the Mamaroneck Varsity soccer team, had already earned a string of local, sectional, regional and New York State honors, including a ranking of #1 player of Section 1AA schools for 2008 and 2007. And she’s been nominated by her coach, Ron Blain, for the prestigious Gatorade Player of the Year Award from ESPN, the cable television network devoted to sports.

Coach Blain called her an “outstanding individual, both on and off the field. He noted her strong work ethic, determination to improve, and professional level skills. “She’s got amazing footwork, and the ability to beat any opponent in the box. In addition, Stephanie’s vision, agility, speed and skills have made her the feared player in section 1,” he wrote on the application for the ESPN award.

The highlight of her last 4 years of soccer came during 2007. “We had one game against Horace Greeley where we were losing 2-0 the whole game,” she recalled. “I was thinking of asking for a sub, but stayed in. And then I got 3 goals in the last 7 minutes - and we won the game!“

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The low point? “Nothing about soccer is a low point,” she said. “I’ve had injuries, but they haven’t kept me off the field,” she said, “Maybe they should have.”

Higher point? Ms. Velez is looking forward to playing soccer next year for the University of Buffalo Division I team on a “full ride” athletic scholarship. “I loved the school,” she said, “especially the coach. He made me feel welcomed.” She’s thinking of sociology, psychology or sports medicine as potential academic majors.

“Getting to the next level next year will be a whole new experience – that I hopefully will be successful in,” she concluded.