Freshman of the Year more than a Soccer player



By Will Barnett, CONTRIBUTOR

For California State University, East Bay’s star soccer goalkeeper Briana Vasquez-Ortiz, the road to becoming a Freshman of the Year was not an easy one.
Like many student-athletes, Vasquez-Ortiz and her family were forced to make sacrifices and work hard to get her to where she is today. When Vasquez-Ortiz was named CSUEB Female Freshman of the Year, she realized that her and her family’s hard work and determination had paid off.
Growing up in Long Beach, Calif., Vasquez-Ortiz was one of three siblings raised by a single immigrant mother working full-time to support a family. Vasquez-Ortiz’s brother, Jose, is a soccer player at Westmont College, while her older sister Claudia is a fashion major at University of California, Santa Barbara.
Vasquez-Ortiz was forced to become independent from a young age due to her mother working full-time to support the family. She would have to make her own way to practice, school and any other commitments that she had.
“I would always find a way to get to practice,” Vasquez-Ortiz said in an interview. “Sometimes this meant making a two-hour bus ride.”
Vasquez-Ortiz credits her mother for shaping her into the person and the soccer player she is today. She claims her mother’s hard work as an example on how to overcome any challenge that she faces.
“I learned so much about gratitude, sacrifices and grit early on,” Vasquez-Ortiz said.
Vasquez-Ortiz’s mother’s hard work has not gone unnoticed by people outside of the Vasquez-Ortiz family. Head coach of the CSUEB women’s soccer team, Robin Hart, spoke highly of the now sophomore’s approach to the game and her character.
“Briana has shown tremendous leadership since she has been here,” Hart said in an interview. “She has separated herself from others based on how hard she works, she shows grit, determination and holds people to a higher standard.”
Vasquez-Ortiz’s mother stressed the importance of a college education.
“We knew that she was working hard,” said Vasquez-Ortiz. “All that she asked was that we got a college diploma.”
Vasquez- Ortiz is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on human factors. After CSUEB, Vasquez-Ortiz hopes to pursue a career in architecture.
Although she has established herself as a top athlete at CSUEB, Vasquez-Ortiz has not forgotten her roots and the sacrifices that were made to get her where she is today.
“She taught me to never take anything for granted. I remind myself of this every time I step onto the field and in the classroom,” said Vasquez-Ortiz in an interview. “Everything I do is for her. I can only hope that one day I am half the woman she is.”