Making it out of Elkhart

Freshman Allan Rodriguez-Lopez, is thriving in the soccer industry, and could be the next best athlete out of Elkhart.


Photo submitted by Allan Rodriguez-Lopez.

Freshman Allan Rodriguez-Lopez smiles for a picture after being named captain for his nationals team in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday, May 10.

Jahlea Douglas, Editor-in-chief

The amount of great athletes that come out of Elkhart is thought to be minimal, yet a young boy straight out of Elkhart is thriving in the soccer industry.

Young five year old, Allan Rodriguez-Lopez, learned the game of soccer by watching his own father teach his brother how to play. In addition to learning from his father, his skills also improved from the help of his YMCA team.

Now at the age of 14, Rodriguez-Lopez travels to Indianapolis almost everyday for practice with his club/league: The Indiana Fire Academy.

Not having the chance to play high school soccer because of the regulations of his league haven’t set him back though. More opportunities have actually sprung up through club soccer rather than high school soccer because national team scouts come and watch club teams.

Not only is he unable to play high school sports like most of his peers, but hanging out with them is usually out of the picture.

“It’s a lot of time without being with your friends. I spend a lot of time training. School comes first. That’s what my dad says. Usually, I do my homework in the car.””

— Allan Rodriguez-Lopez

With the travels to Indianapolis for practice, homework is done in the car and every night is a late night giving Rodriguez-Lopez not much time to spend time with his parents.

“I don’t get to see my family that much,” Rodriguez-Lopez said. “Sometimes when I get home, my parents are already sleeping because they have to be at work in the morning.”

But as an athlete, that is something he just has to deal with. His parents understand that soccer is his passion. Rodriguez-Lopez also understands that his parents are supporting him even though they cannot make it to his games.

“All the places I travel far no one goes with me,” Rodriguez-Lopez said. “Sometimes it is hard, but I know that they are always supporting me.”

Being on Indiana Fire Academy team, Allan plays with a U17 age group meaning he plays with boys who are two to three years older than him.

Traveling all over the world is just one of numerous things he has the opportunity to do, unlike most teams who only travel for tournaments. The farthest his team has traveled being Zagreb, Croatia; going there to play Bosnia and Serbia, losing to Bosnia and winning against Serbia.

Rodriguez-Lopez’s favorite moment from his academy team was scoring the winning goal of the tournament in Texas against the Houston Dynamos.

This league has also opened the door up to Allan, like traveling far to Boston, Massachusetts only at the age of 12 for a soccer camp.

“There were kids from all over like big cities and big names,” Rodriguez-Lopez said. “And then you have me from Elkhart, Indiana which no one knows of.”

Not only does Rodriguez-Lopez get to travel far, but he got the chance to play on the U.S. Junior Nationals Team.

In order to be considered for the Junior Nationals Team, athletes go to training centers all around the United States including the one in Chicago, Illinois. Once a player has tried out and the coaches think they are good enough, they go to the next tryout, which is in either California or Florida.

Finally, the determination is made whether or not the athlete is one of the top players that was chosen to be on the team.

Not only was Rodriguez-Lopez chosen, but he is also the captain of his team.

Through this opportunity, Rodriguez-Lopez is given a number of other opportunities that will benefit his soccer career.

“I could get a pro contract before I go to college, but my dad wants me to go to college before I go pro.””

— Allan Rodriguez-Lopez

So that is his plan: to attend Indiana University of Bloomington and to play Division One soccer. Then, his ultimate goal is to play in the World Cup because it is the biggest tournament between all of the nations. However, it hasn’t been easy and he will continue to make sacrifices and work hard to achieve his goals.

“I have a lot of memories,” Rodriguez-Lopez said. “Soccer is everything. It is what I do all of the time.”