Even as an up-and-coming sophomore, Kevin Rodriguez was a leader by example.
Manteca High soccer coach Justin Coenenberg recalled back then how the other players gravitated towards the young player.
“He was an instant leader, even as a sophomore,” he said.
That year, the Buffaloes made it to the post season with a 6-3-3 Valley Oak League mark, 17-4-4 overall, losing at Vanden in the second round.
As a junior, Rodriguez’s team went 8-4-2 in league, 13-6-4 overall.
While Manteca didn’t quite enjoy the same success this past year, he gained noticed from colleges such as UC Merced.
On Thursday, the Bobcats coach Albert Martins, who was the Cal Pac Conference 2014 coach of the year, signed Rodriguez to be his attacking midfielder.
Also in attendance for this special event in the MHS library was Rodriguez’s mother Zulema Lopez and young brother Emilliano.
Rodriguez, who plans to major in the Biological sciences with a possible minor in Business, had a visit to UC Merced not too long ago. He also trained with the men’s soccer team.
For Martins, Rodriguez appears to be a great fit. He looks for good players with good character.
“Kevin is one of the most well-rounded players that I’ve ever had, both on and off the field,” Coenenberg said.
Rodriguez is looking forward to the new challenges ahead. He expects to be nervous at UC Merced similar to that of his sophomore year at MHS.
Martins, for one, believes his new recruit will be OK.
“(Kevin) is a smart player,” he said. “He works real hard and he’s very unselfish.”
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.