Growing up, Shantay Tamez’s parents—Rachel and A.J.—forced her to skip her friends’ birthday parties or other social outings in favor of playing in a club soccer tournament. At the time, it didn’t sit well with Tamez, a senior standout on the San Benito High girls soccer team.
“I had this animosity built up with my parents in my early teenage years, because I didn’t have a social life outside of soccer,” she said.
As tough as it was to miss those special events, Tamez realizes and is appreciative now why her parents did it—to help her realize her goal of earning a Division 1 scholarship. In front of family, friends and teammates Thursday in the San Benito High Superintendent’s Office, Tamez signed her letter of intent to play at Fresno State University.
“My goal since I was little was to be a professional soccer player, a superstar I guess you can say,” she said. “With that comes hard work, dedication, tears and sacrifices. They were telling me that if I didn’t put in the extra work, someone else would, and they would beat me from reaching my goal to play D-1 soccer. I’m here now because of their tough love, which made me work for what I ultimately love.”
It’s been quite a journey for Tamez, who initially made a verbal commitment to play for Cal State Dominguez Hills last August. However, the coaches who recruited Tamez were not retained, leaving Tamez in a fluid situation. Usually in these situations recruits turn elsewhere immediately.
However, Tamez said she was still willing to stay the course to attend Cal State Dominguez Hills if it wasn’t for the fact that she couldn’t get in contact with the new coaches or anyone surrounding the soccer program until the same day she committed to Fresno State, on Jan. 22.
“I didn’t have anyone reaching out to me for two months and had kind of moved on,” Tamez said.
The Fresno State coaches saw Tamez at the second Surf Cup tournament, which is one of the biggest club tournaments on the West Coast. Tamez will likely play center back for Fresno State, which finished 10-6-4 overall and 5-4-2 in the Mountain West Conference last year. Tamez maintained in contact with Bulldogs coach Brian Zwaschka, who was initially recruiting another player Tamez’s team was going against until she caught his eye.
Just as Tamez planned, the signing ceremony was short and sweet. Tamez held everything together until she thanked her parents. After all, it was her parents’ love that shaped the person Tamez is today.
“I had a couple of tears rolling because they made me into the person I am today,” she said. “They made me a tough, independent lady. They always told me to pursue my dream, and then made sure I would put in the necessary work to achieve it.”
Tamez emphasized that when she first started playing soccer, she wasn’t exactly a polished product. It took years of focus and work to develop into a Division 1 talent.
“My soccer career hasn’t come easy,” she said. “I couldn’t even kick the ball at first. It was all the extra work and sacrificing things like birthday parties to travel for soccer games—that’s what it took. … Luckily my animosity didn’t stay toward my parents—I realize now all the sacrifices was definitely worth it.”