In the last couple of years playing for the Santa Clara Sporting traveling soccer program, Shantay Tamez had to leave her home in Hollister around 4 p.m. to practice with the club at its facility adjacent to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara from 7:45 to 10, three days a week. Tamez would get home at 11, making for some very long days.
“Some nights I’m staying up until 1 (a.m.) to get all my homework done,” the San Benito High senior said. “It gets crazy sometimes just being so busy, but you just have to do it.”
Tamez’s hard work paid off in a huge way as she has made a verbal commitment to play at Fresno State. Tamez followed former Balers standout Kayla King as the only two girls soccer players at the school in the last five years to earn an athletic scholarship straight out of high school into a four-year program.
“I finally get to be in college and play the sport I love,” said Tamez, who was an all-Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division First Team selection a year ago. “This is another step closer to the main dream of becoming a pro.”
Tamez said she received 10 other athletic scholarship offers, including one from a Division I program in Texas.
Tamez is versatile enough to play multiple positions at the high school and club level, including center back, her likely position in college. Strong on the ball and lethal with both legs, Tamez gained the attention of numerous college coaches when she played in several showcase tournaments with the Santa Clara Sporting 99 Green Team.
It’s a powerhouse squad that is ranked second in the state and third in the nation in the 18-and-under age division. Adept at utilizing both feet, Tamez unleashes powerful and accurate shots, and is capable of scoring from 40 yards out.
“I can give a teammate a ball on her foot, or I’ll put the ball directly into the back of the net from 35 to 40 yards out,” she said.
Tamez comes from a soccer family—“When we’re on the road, all we do is talk about soccer non-stop,” she said—which gave her inspiration to play the sport at an early age. Tamez’s parents, Rachel and A.J., both played soccer in their teenage years. Shantay’s two younger sisters, Lexi and Shaelyn, are also athletic.
Lexi plays volleyball and Shaelyn—who is a seventh grader at Spring Grove—has already shown flashes of serious potential on the pitch.
“I’m proud of both of my sisters,” Shantay said. “Lexi has grown out of soccer and is now into volleyball. And Shaelyn at her age is doing some amazing things at a level that I wasn’t doing when I was her age.”
When she was 6 years old, Tamez remembers watching pro soccer players and wanting to be just like them. But A.J. continues to be her most influential role model.
“I wear No. 5 just because of him,” Tamez said. “He’s my everything, my rock. He knows a lot about the different styles of the game, and he was an aggressive player. He also gives me great advice about doing certain things when I’m playing.”
Tamez’s club soccer career isn’t over. She’ll still be training and playing for Santa Clara Sporting to stay sharp, and she’s currently having another solid season at San Benito High. Plus, Santa Clara Sporting plays in the Surf Cup during the Thanksgiving weekend. Driven to succeed at an early age, Tamez plans on leading her club and high school teams to their best seasons in recent memory.