Blue Mountain Community College soccer coach Austin Shick was on hand Wednesday when Hermiston’s Juan Carlos Navarrete signed his letter of intent to play for the Timberwolves. He was not going to let this recruit get away.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Shick, who made sure he left with the signed documents. “He reached out to me about this time last year, and we watched him play. We have loved the Hermiston kids we have had.”
Navarrete, a goalie, said he is excited to join the BMCC team.
“It’s close to home, and I want to stay close to my family,” he said. “They have something going on up there that I really like, and I want to be part of that team.”
Heading to college also is a sense of pride for Navarrete, who plans to major in agricultural business.
“I am the first one in my family to go to college,” he said. “I was the first one in my family to speak English. My motivation to go to college is to give my family a better future.”
Navarrete and the Bulldogs are coming off a 2017 season where they finished second in the Columbia River Conference with a 3-0-3 record. They lost in the Oregon 5A quarterfinals to Bend 3-0. They finished the season 10-4-3.
He was named a first-team CRC goalie.
With the move to the Mid-Columbia Conference this season, the Bulldogs have been idle for 18 months.
With a little time on his hands, Navarrete played football in the fall, kicking and punting for the Bulldogs.
“I loved it,” Navarrete said. “The atmosphere is awesome every game. I wish soccer would have been in the spring since I was a freshman so I could have played football. I really loved it.”
And, it has helped his soccer game.
“We lifted weights, which I liked,” he said. “It was discipline for me. I had to wake up at 6 to lift. I’m stronger and I can jump higher, which is good for me. I’m still lifting. I don’t want to be weak. As a goalie, you need strength to jump and kick.”
Shick also appreciates Navarrete putting in the extra work. “For him, getting into football and staying active in the offseason was the best thing he did,” Shick said.
A lifetime of soccer
Navarrete began playing soccer when he was 4 years old. He started as a defender, but moved to goalie when he was 12.
He and his mother, Lisandra Navarrete, moved to Hermiston from Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, when he was in the eighth grade.
He did not play soccer his freshman year, but he has been a regular on the pitch ever since.
“I am enjoying my last season of high school soccer,” he said. “We are playing a higher level of competition, and we could tell that yesterday (against Walla Walla).”