Turning heads with footwork

Sophomore kicker Julio Perez showcases talent on field


Alexandra Canizales

Sophomore kicker (27) Julio Perez starts the Irving MacArthur game on Friday, Oct. 4 with a kickoff.

His mind is blank, there is nothing except his own thoughts. Thoughts about what is in front of him and how much control he has over it. With breathtaking speed, he dribbles the ball across the field avoiding the defensive onslaught of the other team. He comes as close as he can to the net and performs a swerve shot.  

Sophomore Julio Perez has played soccer for as long as he can remember, but it was two years ago when he chose to allow football to become another sport he dedicated his time to. Starting football in eighth grade, Perez was unsure of his future in the sport. However, he decided to continue playing and realized his hard work paid off once becoming the starting kicker for the varsity football team. 

“In ninth grade I was practicing with varsity as a kicker but I officially became the starting kicker sophomore year,” Perez said. “Honestly, I was proud of myself for getting to that point because ever since middle school I worked and worked on getting better, and it finally paid off when I put on that uniform on Friday.” 

Perez stood out as an athlete since middle school. Coaches quickly took notice of his potential and ensured he would be able to work and pursue that energy on both the soccer and football fields.

“My first impression [of Perez] was [from] coach Seth McBride, who was his coach at Huffines,” special teams coordinator Nickolas Olla said. “He told me there’s this really good kicker who plays soccer and football. At that I point I think I reached out to him and started to get to know him.” 

Every time a team scores a touchdown, the kicker has an opportunity to gain the team additional points. Perez’s accuracy is a valuable asset for the team. This season Perez made 51 of 52 for extra points and three for three for field goals. 

“[He is] consistent,” Olla said. “Very consistent, he is an accurate kicker. On kickoffs if I tell him to put the ball on the 10, that’s where the ball is going to land.” 

Although Perez is an underclassman, his undeniable good spirit and attitude inspire his close friends and upperclassmen teammates. He sets an example of positivity and it is a trait close teammates admire most about Perez. 

“My favorite thing about Julio is his attitude and humor,” senior Hector Montes said. “He is always in a good mood regardless of the circumstances. He doesn’t let his circumstances dictate his attitude.” 

The obstacle I had to overcome was myself.

— sophomore Julio Perez

Coming onto a team and having to play a key role was an important moment for Perez. Accomplishments are still to be made and Perez is only on year two of four of his high school career. Olla saw how accepting of the challenge and varsity spot Perez was and is excited to see what his future has in store.

“I’m proud of him that he stepped up to a varsity role and didn’t bat an eye,” Olla said. “He was ready for the challenge, made the most of it and became a big time tool for us. I’m excited for that next year as well. This year I saw him change to become someone who became a competitor, [he] wanted to kick every field goal, wanted those opportunities and wanted to take the most of them. That was pretty cool to see, he definitely matured a lot from his freshman to sophomore year.”

Mental game is a major asset in every sport and Perez recognizes the work needed from him. Olla and Perez have worked on improving that aspect of the game, along with the individuality of kicking. It is a factor Perez takes into account when playing. 

“The obstacle I had to overcome was myself,” Perez said. “As a kicker, the only thing that would make you miss is yourself. You have to be mentally prepared for every kick, you have to be locked in and always focused, never distracted.”