Photos by K2 Images
(Thanks to Kim McMillan for this story idea!)
It’s funny how dreams become reality. In an instant, moments become memories, and that translates into destiny. Some 17 years ago, Jose Roberto “Robert” Gonzalez and Karla Gonzalez were expecting their third child. “My wife let me feel how hard the baby was kicking inside her when she was pregnant,” said Robert, father and husband for more than 20 years. “We just laughed and just didn’t think about it any more. All we could think about was that we just wanted our son to be healthy.” As fate would have it, the person forming in his mother’s womb would be none other than Alexander “The Great” Gonzalez.
Alex, as his teammates and friends call him, has a passion for one sport only, soccer – and the world is now taking notice. The Huntsville High School junior, at the tender age of 17 and standing barely 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing less than 120 pounds, plays the striker (or forward) position, whose primary objective is to score. Proving dynamite comes in small packages, Alex has an opportunity to become an international soccer superstar and possibility earn millions in the process.
“When I think back to when I was pregnant with him, he must have been kicking so much because he was practicing to become a soccer player,” said Karla. One glance at Alex reveals a well-grounded sincere young man. His body is well-toned, with strong legs forged by hours and hours of running. His face beams with the joy of one doing what he was born to do. He is self-disciplined, paying strict attention to diet and exercise. “I just don’t know how he got so good with the ball,” said Robert. “It is like a gift from God.”
“I’ve been playing with Alex for more than 12 years now,” said Trey Pervis, a goalie and teammate with the Huntsville Eclipse, a select soccer team. “First, I’m glad he’s on our team. But at times, he is almost impossible to defend. He is always moving; his footwork is so quick, you never know what direction he is going to score from. Just practicing against him makes us better, because we are not going to face anyone tougher in a game.”
Stormy Hall, another teammate, freely sings other praises of “The Great One.” “It really does not surprise me that teams in Europe want a player like him to lead them to a championship,” Stormy said. “He is one of the best passers and teammates in the game today. He is one of those special players that just loves to play the sport and loves his teammates. He wants everyone to have just as much, if not more, fun than he is having. He gets everyone involved. He makes everyone around him better.”
How does one get to be an Alex Gonzalez? In the soccer world, it takes much more than just talent. “My mother tagged me on Facebook about this soccer combine that was being held in Conroe,” said Alex. “I went to check it out, and I just couldn’t believe it. At first, I thought the website and everything was some kind of scam.” What the family had stumbled upon was the site of an international soccer combine, set over a three-day period, searching for the best talent in the world ages 17-26. Unlike NFL combines, those who desire the glory of the soccer field must pay to be seen. “I remember asking my parents for the almost $400 just to play,” continued Alex. “That money seemed like it was on the moon.” Robert and Karla had a talk with their son. “We knew we could not stand in the way of his dreams,” Robert said. “So we just tightened our belts and were able to pay for his opportunity.”
“I was very worried about everything,” Alex said. “I just kept on praying that the coach would just put me in.” Then, in the last period locked in a scoreless tie with nothing to lose, he decided to shake things up a bit and put in “The Great.” Once in the game, the smallest player goes to work. Running…kicking…dodging…faking…passing…scoring—not once but twice—to win the game and the eyes of scouts from around the world.
Soon after, the combine player received an email regarding his status. “I had a friend that I’d made at the combine, and he showed me the email he received telling him thank you for trying out, but they were going to move in another direction,” said Alex. “They were trying to let him down easy, saying that this does not mean he is a failure in life. And then my mother and I read the email they sent me together.” Alex’s email told a different story. He had been selected to tour the summer as a member of a professional team in Europe, with particular interest from teams in Turkey and Sweden. Earning a spot on a European travel team virtually assures a place on a national team and an opportunity at a promising professional career.
“Our first thoughts were about him completing his high school education,” said Robert. “But they said they would provide a tutor for our son once he signs with one of the pro teams. Our next concern was he is only now 17 years old, and living in Europe is a long way.” “I know he is my son, but he really is a good child. He never gives anyone any trouble,” Karla said. We have worked hard to bring him up to fear the Lord and love God. I would like to go with him, just to set him up; then after that, my baby can live in Europe as a professional soccer player.”
What lies ahead for “The Great One?” The next step is to get to Europe. The league will not pay for even a great one’s fare to Europe, but once he arrives and passes his physical, the cash register may not stop ringing for a long time after the summer tour.
The Gonzalez family has set up a “Go Fund Me” account at gf.me/fcpf#gofundme, trusting the community will come together to help one of its own. They are hoping to raise $6,000 for the cost of a roundtrip ticket for Alex and his mother over the coming summer just before the start of the 2016 International Soccer Season.
Knowing his dreams and a shot at fame and wealth are only a few months away, Alex is surprisingly calm and focused. “I’m just thinking about all the people along the way that have helped me,” recalls Alex. “My parents, my teammates, all my coaches and friends. Soccer is a wonderful sport, and this is a great area to be an athlete. I know we’ve had great ball players from this area before, with one of the most recent being NFL first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns Justin Gilbert. But soccer is on the rise. I hope to come back to Huntsville and really give back to a community that has given so much to me.”
For more information or to contact the Gonzalez family, call (936) 439-9891.