The Balancing Act of Academics and Athletics
by Chelsea Hess-Moore, Photography by Kelly Ann Shuler
Antonio Heredia Soto, Soccer
Lower Dauphin High School to Bates College
When Antonio Heredia Soto was asked what it means to him to be a student first in his student-athlete role, his answer fully showed his stance.
“Extremely important,” says Heredia Soto. “For my case, I was a top Division 1 recruit for soccer in the area, but I am going to a Division 3 college for academics. It was a bold choice on my part, but I decided to choose Bates College to study economics. I am hoping to work in finance one day.”
Humble with his decision, he chose to travel to Maine, the home of Bates College, and although the school isn’t Division 1, he is excited to pursue his educational desires while also playing the sport that he loves and excels in – soccer.
Aside from playing on the Lower Dauphin soccer team, Heredia Soto is also involved both in his school and community.
Academically, he is a member of the National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society, French Honor Society and Distinguished Honor Roll. In extracurricular activities, he is the team kicker for the varsity football team. He also volunteers at Top Soccer, which is an organization for special-needs children, as well as the Special Olympics. He’s also a mentor and goes on trips to Camp Hebron with middle-school students.
With a full schedule and balancing the time to maintain his academic standing, Heredia Soto boasts an impressive soccer background, one of which he worked hard at to be the best that he could be.
“I was born in Mexico, and I was basically born playing soccer,” he says. “I officially started playing organized soccer with the YMCA in Houston, where I moved to from Mexico. Eventually, we moved here, and I started playing with the Lower Dauphin Soccer Association.”
In seventh grade, Heredia Soto was moved down two tier levels because he failed to meet the requirements or, as he says, “I wasn’t good enough.”
This pushed him to practice and be more competitive. During his junior year, he took time off from the Lower Dauphin varsity soccer team to pursue more competitive teams to get exposure to college recruits. Landing numerous recruits from Division 1 schools, he was able to choose a college that balances academics and athletics for him, and that college was Bates.
For his senior year, he returned to Lower Dauphin’s varsity soccer team, and this past December, he earned the chance to play in the All-American Soccer Game in Raleigh, N.C., a far better standing than he was at in seventh grade when he wasn’t quite “good enough.”
Advancing in soccer and being part of the sport has molded his abilities in life and the classroom to take on anything he’s given.
“It definitely helped teach me a leadership role,” he says. “Maybe with doing a group project and being able to organize everyone to stay on the same page. Also, humility. Just working hard and making my grades good and not boasting about them, but rather letting my grades speak for themselves. Most importantly, soccer has given me a sense of belonging. Our team is more like a brotherhood.”
Being a student athlete is a tough role as Heredia Soto says, but it’s one he wouldn’t trade for anything else.
“I feel that being a student athlete is a great thing,” says Heredia Soto. “It’s tiring, especially during the season. Sometimes you may think, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Getting up early and staying up late at night to study. But at the end of the day, it’s so rewarding. You can get colleges to talk to you about your sport, and if you have good grades, you can try to pursue academic scholarships as well. It really is a great thing to be a student athlete.”
This article appears in the May 2016 issue of Harrisburg Magazine