Diego Soto is somewhere in Argentina these days, pursuing a dream to play professional soccer, with a San Jose State University diploma tucked firmly under his belt. Soto, a two-year standout for head coach Gary St. Clair’s men’s soccer program in 2005 and 2006, completed his degree requirements in business administration, with a concentration in finance, last December. He had participated in the commencement ceremony inside Spartan Stadium in May of 2008.
“It feels great to be the first in my family to earn a degree,” writes Soto via e-mail. “Everyone was very excited about it. I felt very happy because I had fulfilled the dream of my parents. One time, they told me that the only thing they would like for me to give them was a diploma, which I did. I was happy for myself, but in reality, the only people that I wanted to be happy were my parents and family.”
Soto, who graduated from King City (Calif.) High School in 2003 prior to spending two successful years at Hartnell College in Salinas, started all 33 games he played for the Spartans, garnering all-league distinction both years, including a first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation nod following his senior campaign. For St. Clair, he was a holding central midfielder and a formidable defensive stopper on the pitch, earning a Coaches’ Award in 2005 and Team Most Valuable Player honors as a senior tri-captain.
With a college degree in hand and a job lined up in Salinas, Soto recently had one final calling from his passion, soccer.
He had to listen.
“I was going to start working for a strawberry company,” he explains. “I was going to be doing the accounting for them, but a great opportunity came up to come to Argentina and try out for some professional teams. I realized that this opportunity was the last one I would have to play pro soccer. I came to Argentina a few weeks ago, and everything started working very well. I should have news about my future in the professional soccer world in the coming weeks.
“My goal has always been to become a professional soccer player, but since this career does not last forever, that’s why I finished my education. I want to recognize my parents, family, friends and my girlfriend, Doris, because they were always there for me. This achievement is for them, because they supported me and never let me give up on school.
“My best moment at San Jose State was the day we went to New Mexico and beat them in overtime (3-2 on October 16, 2005),” recalls Soto. “This was a special victory, because they were ranked number-two in the nation and had a long unbeaten streak (19 games overall dating back to 2004, and 13 matches at home going back to 2003). It was special because not many players have the chance to beat one of the best teams in the nation.
“I really appreciate San Jose State for giving me the opportunity to get an education. Thank you to Coach St. Clair, (associate head coach) Ron (Smare) and (assistant coach) Chris (Behler) for giving me the chance to play for the Spartans. Also, I appreciate all the staff members who helped me throughout my student-athlete career at San Jose State.”
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