Best in the field

Sarah Pena has played soccer for as long as she can remember

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Provided by Sarah Pena

Sarah played on a travel league when she was just 5 years old.

Brooke Hamann

The crunch of her studs into the damp grass is making her all the more eager. With each step, a clump of dirt is clinging to her cleats. Beads of sweat, clustered near her brunette hairline. The sun is ever so blinding, however not causing a distraction in the slightest. Glancing at the checkered-like ball, the potential routes to the goal began flashing through her mind. In about 5 seconds, the crowd will be chanting her name; GOALLL.
Sarah Pena is a senior on the girls varsity soccer team at Lake Park High School in Roselle. Beginning when she was only 5 years old, Pena’s love for the sport has yet to diminish.
“I began playing soccer at a very young age. It was something originally my dad had recommended I try just to experiment. But, from the time I scored my first goal, I knew this was going to be long term and a big hobby,” Pena said.
Playing left forward and right forward, Pena has always felt the need to condition and be in tip-top shape to perform her very best in both games and practices.
“Working out has always been a huge stress reliever. People underestimate the relief popping in some AirPods and going on a run can do for you,” Pena said.
To Sarah, attendance throughout the season will ensure success.
“It’s a misconception among athletes that practices aren’t significant. But, practices are simply ways to improve, a scrimmage for how the game will play out, and time to bond with your team. If you look at it like that, they’re super significant!”
Playing against Huntley since she was young, the desire to join the Red Raider family has always been on her mind.
“Sarah has asked me various times how I would feel about her joining the Huntley soccer travel team. She’s definitely been drawn to the program after seeing the way the team hypes each other up and the family-like atmosphere they somehow have created,” Dave Pena, Sarah’s father said.
“I told her I wanted her to do what makes her happy. In the end, the driving factor kinda convinced her otherwise.”
Regardless, the relationships she has developed with her team now have made the sport even more worthwhile.
“Our team would be nothing without Sarah. If you were to ask anyone on the team, I can assure you that everyone loves that girl. She’s our little cheerleader! She’s encouraging and always works her hardest to spread positivity,” teammate Anna Odisho said.
The only thing that matters more to Sarah than soccer is her family, quite obvious as she accredits her talent and support to them.
“I love my teammates but family is my priority. Seeing them on the sidelines, cheering me on reassures me that all the hard work I put into the sport was worth it. I wouldn’t be the athlete and person I am without them,” Pena said.
In the same respect, Pena’s family enjoys seeing her so happy and confident in her athletic abilities which makes attending the games all the more worth it.
“Seeing [Sarah] on the field doing what she loves most is an amazing feeling for me as her sister. She’s been through so much and I’m glad she has something she can constantly rely on to blow off some steam. I’m so proud of her,” Alissa Pena, Sarah’s sister said.
Pena will continue to strive for perfection and is ecstatic about what her future holds. In the meantime, she lives by her favorite quotation: sports do not build character, they reveal it.