How Aldaberto Flores overcame challenges to become Van Buren's high school soccer captain

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Aldaberto Flores has overcome some obstacles to help lead Van Buren's defense this soccer season.

Flores and his family arrived in America four years ago from El Salvador. He didn't know much English, but he knew soccer. And he was determined to make the varsity team as a freshman.

"I could show the coach what I could do. I can play anywhere. It doesn't matter," Flores said. "Whatever the coach wants me to do. It's been a good year for me, and I'm happy about it."

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Overcoming the language barrier took some time. Coach Nathan Almond had to rely on players to communicate with Flores. 

"It was a real challenge, but it showed his work ethic, not just on the soccer field but in the classroom as well," Almond said. "The better his English got and better I got at communicating with him, the better he became as a player."

Flores didn't just have to overcome a language barrier, but he also had to learn to work with a coach.

In El Salvador, Flores learned to play independently with no shoes and in the street with some help from his dad and uncle.

"When I get here, I have a coach telling me what to do, and I had to have someone translate for me early on," Flores said. "It was really hard at first because I would have different people yelling at me in different languages."

Van Buren (11-0-1) has only given up three goals, one with the varsity squad and two with the backup crew. 

"We have a lot of people who play really good, like Isaac Ochoa. We have a lot of communication," Flores said. "We practice and play really hard, and that's good for the team."

Flores was voted as captain by his teammates. A move that surprised both him and his coach.

"It made me happy, and I want to always put in my best effort," Flores said. "I'm very proud to be captain of a team that is undefeated right now. It's a really special team."

"He's a great kid. One of the best center backs I've coached and maybe the best center back I've coached," coach Nathan Almond said. "He's not the most vocal or the most charismatic, but it showed the respect they had for him.

"He shows up every day, and he leads by example. You don't need to yell at him because he's always doing the right thing."