By Jarett Greben
While many South students can recall learning to dribble around their elementary school classmates on Memorial Field as part of the local Police Athletic League soccer teams, junior Christopher Flores’ passion for the game did not stop there. After securing a spot on the Great Neck Blizzards travel team, he went on to play for the Great Neck Gladiators, South Huntington Premier, Long Island Rough Riders, Olympic Development Program, Metropolitan Oval Academy, and, while only a freshman, both South’s junior varsity and varsity teams. Today, as a 16-year-old on the elite New York Red Bulls, Flores looks to score a big future in the sport.
Because of the extreme time commitment required by the Bulls, Flores has not been allowed to participate in school athletics since ninth grade, disappointing not only him, but also the varsity soccer team. “It came as a shock to me that I was not allowed to play high school soccer,” Flores said, “but after learning about the opportunities that come with playing Red Bull soccer, I decided to stick with the Bulls,” a decision Flores has not regretted.
Though Flores learned a lot about himself as a player on varsity, he says he has realized his true potential through the help of his Red Bulls coach and teammates. Flores feels that his greatest strengths are probably his speed, dribbling and ability to think and react quickly. His teammate Kyle Zajec agrees. “I think the greatest quality Chris brings to the table is his assisting ability and vision on the field. He is a great player who has it all, from speed to strength to skill,” Zajec said. Flores’s next goal is to earn a spot on the USA U17 national team for the second time in two years.
Flores has had a strong start to the 2013-2014 season. He starts in every game, and in the Red Bulls’ first five games, he has netted three goals and added four assists. Flores said, “There is a lot of competition throughout the team for certain positions, but my coach knows my ability and trusts me to be a regular starter in either the midfield or the forward line.”
Flores’s commitment to soccer is all-consuming. He practices with the Red Bulls in Newark, New Jersey, four times a week and has a game every weekend. “When I don’t have practice, I try to get as much playing time in as possible,” Flores said. “By the end of the week, I would say I play for a total of eight to twelve hours.” He often runs by South’s athletic fields after school to stay in shape and dribbles in and out of the streets in town.
Flores has played in countless tournaments and showcases around the country. In 2015, he hopes to step foot on the St. John’s University turf to play Division I NCAA soccer.
Flores’s family has supported him since the minute he first touched a soccer ball. “I am very proud of Chris and how far he has come as a player,” said Jose Rolando Flores, Chris’s father. “I always push Chris to be a better player and keep on striving. I am extremely proud that Christopher made the New York Red Bulls team, and I was super excited that I got to go to Italy with Chris while he was training with the Juventus Academy. I hope to see Chris push himself to remain a good student in school and keep on playing soccer at the highest level. One day, I dream of him becoming a professional.”
Many athletes dream of playing at the highest level, but Chris Flores doesn’t just dream of getting there—he puts in the effort. He hopes to make it big day, Flores said, “I believe that my work ethic, technique, and skill will push me to the end.”
Being a professional is all Flores a has ever dreamed about, and Flores will never let anything set him back.
Photo reproduced by permission of Chris Flores