Vanesa Abad is not just another talented soccer player, she is someone we should all know just a little bit better.
Our U17 Ela Elite team, coached by Robert Meschbach and Frank Hermanutz, currently has Vanesa playing both forward and center-midfield. However, she began kicking the soccer ball around, with Dad, when she was just three years old.
Vanesa has been on various Ela teams and played on the LZ Middle School South team as a 6th grader. This spring, as a freshman, she will be trying out at LZHS. Soccer is a family activity with her sister, Catalina, playing on the same team and her younger sister Sofia also on an Ela team. Besides soccer, Vanesa has fun with cross country, basketball, softball, and volleyball. She also finds time to play the piano.
When she was eleven she tried out for the ODP team. That consisted of participating in an indoor session every month during the winter, followed by an NIU summer camp. She was selected for the state team that year and the next, which took her to the regional camp where she got to meet, play and compete against soccer players from all over the region.
But what caught our attention was what she also accomplishes off the field. Vanesa is just as committed to community service as she is to soccer. She participated in the “Illinois Youth Soccer End of Season Event,” a one day camp coaching a diverse group of kids between the ages of 4 and 14 in a Chicago inner city. In her words, “It was my first time volunteering and I left very touched. The event was an opportunity to give back to soccer, and a reminder that the reason we play is because we love it so much.” Vanesa and two other ODP players had a group of energetic 8-year-old boys to coach. They ran drills, scrimmages, World Cup, juggling contests and goalie wars. The boys loved it so much they never stopped for water breaks. “This was a reminder that I started playing competitively and trying out for advanced teams all because I love to play, and no matter what level I play at, it should always be fun.” She admired the kids because even though they do not have the same opportunities, they played hard every moment and took away as much as they could.
Volunteering doesn't stop at soccer. In middle school she worked on organizing a Supersibs volleyball event to raise money. Last summer she went on a mission trip with her church to help out residents in Dayton, Ohio. This summer she would like to volunteer as a camp counselor at a hospital and perhaps sign up to be an assistant soccer coach.
What does the future hold? It many respects it looks like a continuation of her life today. She would like to play college soccer while studying to become a medical humanitarian aid worker. A wonderful future for a talented soccer player with a big heart.