The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

Humans of WEGO: Born to compete

Junior Elina Velasco is a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field.
Photo by Emily Ziajor
Junior Elina Velasco tears down the field during the annual powderpuff game earlier this year; Velasco is no stranger to competition, and is involved in three sports throughout the year.


One initial is all it takes to identify one of WEGO’s top offensive wingers. Her ability on the field is undeniable. Her coaches describe her as an “incredible asset to the team.” 

Who is she?

Junior Elina Velasco.

“Elina always pushes you to be the best and is competitive to win. She always will defend her teammates no matter what the circumstances are. Elina is hardworking on the field to give her all,” freshman Kaylee Krietzer said. 

A young Elina Velasco intercepts the ball before the opposition has a chance to take control. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Velasco)

Elina began playing soccer at the age of four after following the lead of her older sister, Anelise. She claims her parents “threw” her into the sport, but soccer was something Elina enjoyed and continued playing throughout her childhood. From a young age, Elina’s parents knew she had talent. 

Elina started on park district teams with girls her age, but it was very apparent to Elina’s parents and other coaches that she was more skilled than the others. After a change of scenery, not only did Elina play on boys’ teams, but she also played against players at least two years older than her. 

We had been watching her play for a few years already with girls her same age and saw that she was ready for that next level of competitive play. Her coach reassured us that she had the skill to play up and on the boy’s team,” Elina’s mom, Sandra Velasco, said.

“I think it just helped me. Even now, in the field, I’m not scared to use my body or to go against guys,” Elina said. 

From playing on a team with boys and playing against boys who were even older than her, Elina adapted quickly and became a better player. 

“I feel like if I hadn’t played against guys, I would have been a little bit more timid, but I already knew that I could play against older guys, and it wouldn’t really make a difference,” Elina said.

Now, Elina’s teammates would describe her as a physical player who does not let the ball go without a fight. Her strong offensive tactics come from her experiences playing against much older athletes.

As she aged, Elina continued to play on boys’ teams, a fact she now credits with increasing her confidence on the field. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Velasco)

“Some guys even had mustaches because the teams that we played with sneaked in older people to play. So obviously, it wasn’t very fair. I just had to work hard because I had to prove myself in every situation, even when I was younger, [and] obviously [playing with older] boys, but younger boys are kind of jerks,” Elina said.

Developing her own self-worth was part of the process. Elina worked hard to prove to herself that the boys she was playing with and against had no reason to think less of her. 

“So you have to really work harder than the rest to prove [to] yourself that you’re actually worth being there,” Elina said.

Elina was just as good – and in some cases, even better – than the players she was with, according to her parents. 

“Her coach reassured us that she had the skill to play up and on the boy’s team,” Sandra said.

Thanks to Elina’s hard work, she has been a starter on West Chicago’s Varsity girls’ soccer team since her freshman year. Elina’s capability to move the ball often advances the team to the final third of the soccer field.

“She brings something you can’t teach- character and passion. Her growth and ability to compete is something I will always admire,” Varsity assistant coach Dorian Carrasco said. 

Elina believes it is important to break common stereotypes in sports. In all sports, it is unusual to see a young girl on a team with older boys.

“She can play in the inside channel as well as the outside channel. Being super versatile both defensively and offensively,” Carrasco said. 

In many sports, there is an advantage to certain body types. For example in basketball players want to be tall, and in soccer players want to be strong on the ball and fast. 

Today, Elina is a key player on West Chicago Community High School’s girls’ soccer team; on May 22, it was announced she will be one of the team captains next season. (Photo courtesy of Mang Pi)

A stereotype female athletes unfairly have to face is being weaker than male athletes. Even after playing a sport for the same amount of time stereotypically some would assume a male is better at the position. Elina was able to break that stereotype of being weaker than other players due to being the opposite gender.

Although Elina is a tri-athlete, also involved in tennis and basketball, her skills on the soccer field stand out. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Velasco)

“It was very exciting to watch her play with boys because we think she liked people underestimating her ability. That helped her develop the motivation and drive to prove she could match their level of play,” Sandra said.

“It gives everyone a chance to pursue their passion for the game regardless of gender,” Elina said. 

Elina is actually a tri-sport athlete. Elina takes place on the varsity tennis team in the fall, followed by the varsity basketball team in the winter, and then finishing off the year with her favorite, varsity soccer. 

However, Elina is contemplating playing flag football in the fall if WCCHS starts a team. 

“I think flag football could be fun but I’m not sure about leaving tennis because I’ve been doing it for three years,” Elina said.

Either way, Elina does not get intimidated by the looks of the opposing team. Stereotypically, taller players are better at sports like basketball. Those who struggle with self-confidence may be nervous to go up against those who appear stronger.

“Even in basketball, there were girls who are so much taller than me, but I don’t see [height] as a difference. I just know that I’m not scared to go against people bigger than me,” Elina said. 

Elina has gained a higher confidence as she has aged; that confidence will help her as she leads the soccer team next year as one of the captains, a position that was announced on May 22. 

“Pursue what you’re passionate about and don’t worry about what others think,” Elina said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Juliet Payton
Juliet Payton, Reporter
Despite her passion for sports communication and the hopes of being on ESPN, sophomore Juliet Payton can be described as a person who is calm and goes with the flow. She enjoys hanging out with her friends and sleeping in her free time, and is determined to make all of her dreams come true.
Emily Ziajor
Emily Ziajor, Multimedia Manager
Emily Ziajor is a WEGO senior in her second year of journalism. She attended the National High School Journalism Convention last November, and thoroughly loved the experience. She is a Polish-American (she finished her final year of Polish School in the spring of 2023) with a creative soul and high aspirations. When it comes to writing, she has a sharp imagination, and one of her true passions is photography. Emily is a multi-year member of the AV Club at West Chicago Community High School.
Donate to Wildcat Chronicle
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Any comment made will go through the Wildcat Chronicle to be approved. Obscene, suggestive, vulgar, profane, threatening, disrespectful, defamatory language will not be published. Attacks made towards race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed will not be tolerated. Comments should be relevant to the article or the writer; please respect the author and the other commenters. Comments must be 300 words or less. All comments are the property of the Wildcat Chronicle after being submitted. In order to submit a comment, a valid e-mail address must be used, and the email must be verified. Impersonating another person’s name is prohibited.
All Wildcat Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *