POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie High School Senior Cesar Calderon-Garcia was named October’s Athlete of the Month, for his dedication to the sport, inside and outside of school.
Garcia has played soccer since he was four and began playing in PHS’ program in freshman year. He started taking the sport more seriously in eighth grade and started shedding weight with encouragement from his then coach Patrick Alvarez.
“I used to be a chubby kid and the first year I lost 40 pounds,” Calderon-Garcia said. “Now I’m getting back in shape.”
Depending on his schedule, Calderon-Garcia can sometimes train up to three times a day – all in between his classes at PHS and completing his schoolwork, which he does during free periods and at home. Calderon-Garcia aspires to play professionally one day.
“What my parents want me to do is focus on school and soccer,” Calderon-Garcia said. “My schedule is really busy because I’m all over the place with soccer.”
Outside of school, he volunteers his time by coaching his friends and younger aspiring soccer players who wish to follow in his footsteps.
“Sometimes they want to pay me, but I’m like ‘Leave it,’ because I’m not there for the money, I’m there for the passion,” Calderon-Garcia said. “They saw how my path was going, they want to follow me.”
Garcia appreciates his current coach Nathan Rosenberger, who nominated him for the honor, for encouraging him when times are tough.
“I appreciate him for everything he’s done for me,” Calderon-Garcia said. “He always tells me, ‘Keep on going, keep your head up.’”
Rosenberger considers it a privilege to have coached Calderon-Garcia throughout his four years of high school and credits him for his hard work and dedication to soccer.
“He’s turned himself into a top player in the county,” Rosenberger said. “He’s going out there and putting in hours and hours of work.”
Calderon-Garcia is a role model to younger students, who gets good grades in all his classes and is accountable.
“I couldn’t ask for a better player to have on our team,” Rosenberger said. “He’s well-rounded, that’s part of the reason we picked Cesar.”
For anyone interested in playing soccer, either professionally or for fun, Calderon-Garcia recommends playing every game with passion.
“Enjoy every moment,” he said. “You never know when it will be your last day on the pitch.”