The path of a collegiate athlete can lead to many destinations.
For Clovis Community College freshman Ariana Quintero, the next destination appears to be University of California, Davis.
Quintero, a prolific-scoring midfielder, recently signed a National letter of intent to attend and play soccer for UC Davis, according to a report from UC Davis Athletics.
After just one season with the Clovis Crush team, Quintero demonstrated her ability both as an offensive force and as a leader on the team, said Orlando Ramirez, head coach of the Clovis Crush women’s soccer team.
“When she came into this offseason as an incoming freshman, she, right away, set the standard in terms of the physical preparation that she did outside,” Ramirez said. “And that showed, you know, showed us right away the seriousness and the dedication that she was bringing to our team.”
Unlike many high schools and four-year colleges where seniority often factors into the team’s leadership roles, Ramirez said the Clovis Crush team aims to share responsibility evenly between its freshmen and sophomores. After a successful summer with the team, Quintero was named as one of the team’s three captains.
“Going into that, [Ramirez] told me that he wanted me to be a leader,” Quintero said. “To take on that role, it sort of just changed my mindset, as to where I had to forget about the age difference, or whoever’s older than me.”
Quintero said that she does not consider herself a vocal leader, but chose to lead by example of her actions to encourage her teammates to put in the extra effort on and off the field.
On the 2018-2019 season, Quintero recorded 21 goals, a single-season school record, and 13 assists, scoring multiple goals in five different matches. Quintero started 22 of the team’s 23 games, helping the Crush reach an overall season record of 16-3-4 and a No. 3 seed in the playoffs, both of which were records for the 3-year-old program.
Quintero was also named Central Valley Conference’s Most Valuable Player, another first for the program.
After working with the team during the summer, Ramirez said Quintero demonstrated a strong knowledge of the game, which prompted him to allow her more freedom on the field to pick her shots and run the offense.
Ramirez is not the only one who has recognized Quintero’s cerebral play on the field. In an interview with UC Davis Athletics, Twila Kaufman, head coach of the UC Davis women’s soccer team, praised Quintero’s smart play and feel for the sport.
“From the first time I saw Ariana, I was hoping she would come to UC Davis,” Kaufman told UC Davis Athletics. “We love her soccer IQ, passion for the game, and we think she will fit well with the players we have.”
Quintero is not just a star on the field, but excels in the classroom as well, having graduated from Edison High School with a 4.32 GPA.
Now in her first year of college, Quintero is pursuing a degree in computer science.
The path to collegiate athletic success for Quintero began at home. She said her mother, who still plays soccer in an adult league, worked with Quintero when she was young, running drills and helping to develop her fundamentals.
“It’s crazy, how the drills that she showed me when I was younger are some of the ones that Orlando uses in his practices today,” Quintero said. “To go from really young and my mom teaching me all these things and then going to Orlando[‘s team] where it’s sort of the same idea, it was really cool.”
Quintero said that the similarity in the style of play of the Clovis Crush team and the playing style her mother taught her helped her to feel comfortable and be creative making plays on the offensive side of the ball.
Her father also played a role in Quintero’s soccer development. When she was young, he helped form and coach a team that she played on.
Having grown up in Fresno, Quintero said she has mixed emotions about leaving the Central Valley. She said she is both nervous and excited to start the next chapter of her college career, but takes comfort in knowing that her family will be just a short drive away.
In addition to her family, Quintero said she also draws inspiration from professional players such as Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi. She said she used to watch them play and would try to incorporate some of their styles in her own game.
These styles may prove useful, not only in her college career, but Quintero said she has aspirations of one day playing professional soccer, a dream she has had since she was young.
“Along the way, I was always just thinking what I would do after I was done with school,” Quintero said. “But being given that option to play professionally kind of, like, brings me back to that dream.”
Wherever her path leads, Quintero said she knows she will get through it with the support of her family.