YAKIMA, WA — “I was born and raised in Yakima, and there’s nothing better than going out on the field and representing MY home town,” says Yakima United FC’s Hector Valdovinos. “I’ve grown up with a lot of the guys on the team. I think we have a very talented group of players, a great coach and assistant coaches, and manager. I wouldn’t want to play for any other team.”
Yakima United surely feels the same way. Valdovinos leads the Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) in goals scored with seven. The Hoppers have played seven matches.
“I started playing soccer when I was 6 years old. I came home from school and told my mom that if she didn’t sign me up for soccer I would do it myself, so she did.” That early determination paid off for Valdovinos. “My first team was called the Sonic Jets. I would always score 4-5 goals every game. I played for many teams growing up. I was first team all conference for Davis High School in both my junior and senior seasons. I played one year of college soccer at Wenatchee Valley Community College, then I played at an Academy on Whidbey Island. Unfortunately that program didn’t last long, but I learned a lot and was able to perfect my skill some more. For the 18 years I’ve been playing I’ve had some unforgettable experiences which have all helped make me the player I am today.”
It’s been difficult for opposing sides to stop Valdovinos. He scored the go-ahead goal against Seattle as Yakima won the first match in EPLWA history. He scored the first goal in Spokane that triggered a 3-2 comeback win for the Hoppers. He scored the opener in the “instant classic” that Yakima lost 5-4 at Vancouver. He got a brace when he scored both goals in a 2-2 comeback at Seattle. Most-recently Valdovinos got a second brace in a 5-2 Hoppers home win over WestSound FC.
“I’ve always been an attacking player and love scoring goals,” says Valdovinos. “It’s just an instinct I’ve always had to be in the right place at the right time, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates. Credit to them for getting me in positions to put the ball in the net.” The Hoppers are hard to stop with the pairing of Valdovinos and Junior Garcia. Garcia has five goals of his own and the two alternate making defenses crazy.
Valdovinos is willing to take the current success as it comes. He’s able to be level-headed about his early success in the new league. “I try not to “hope” for much. If we really want something I believe in working hard and going out and getting it. Being at the top of the table is where everyone wants to be, I think we could be there, despite a few rough results, I believe in our team’s ability to get there. We’re only about halfway through the season and we have to go all out in the second half and see where we finish. As for the league, I already see it as a big success and am excited to see it grow and possibly add even more clubs.”
Hector is happy there is a statewide adult competition, and that Yakima is involved. “The EPLWA is an exciting league. It’s awesome to be a part of it. All the teams are really competitive, and all around there’s some really good soccer being played. I’m so thankful to everyone involved in putting this league together so I have the opportunity to play in it and even just doing this interview.”
The league was launched in part for guys just like Hector. They have plenty to give and plenty of soccer left to play. Why not play it as a hometown hero?
“It’s every player’s dream to play as a professional; being nearly 25 years old I’ve had a few chances,” Valdovinos reflects. “I’ve been in the ideal situation (before) and unfortunately I’ve just come up short. Not that I’ve given up, I will always strive to improve and work on playing at the highest level I can, until I’m unable to kick a ball anymore.”
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