DOWNEY – There’s a moment in football when the crowd becomes silent. The night is young, there’s a soft breeze flowing around you. All eyes are on you. The pressure is on. You take a breath and you can feel your heart racing. You have only one job. This point can make the difference in winning or losing the game. The crowd is on the edge of their seats waiting patiently for the snap. You say a prayer and focus on the goalpost. Here comes your moment… and it’s good! Kickers don’t always get the credit they often deserve. Partly because they don’t play very much in a game and because they don’t endure the same rigorous physical demands as their teammates. A kicker’s position requires complete discipline and control over his mind. He has to block everything out and make his kick.
So how does Omar Juarez #43 for the Downey High School Vikings do it?
“Fans need to understand a kicker’s role depends on teamwork,” Juarez says. “The offensive line needs to block, the snapper needs to be quick. The holder needs to time it accurately so that I can execute and kick it straight through.
“An example of where this did not happen was the Vista Murrieta game. We lost by one point. The line missed the block, which in turn blocked me from making my kick. Everyone always assumes it’s a kicker’s fault, but sometimes it’s not. It really does all come down to timing.”
Juarez was born near Monterrey, Mexico. He’s been playing soccer since the third grade, which contributes to his ability to focus, tune everything out and the discipline that football demands.
“Soccer is a great sport to be in if your serious about becoming a kicker. Not everyone has the talent and patience it requires. You learn to kick with the inside of the football and how to balance yourself properly to make the ball shift the way you want it to. It helps your form, but it ultimately comes down to practicing because soccer and football can be very different but also similar depending on what you are trying to accomplish” Omar Juarez states.
In addition to playing football, Juarez is captain of the Downey Vikings varsity soccer team.
“It happened to be good timing. Varsity football needed a kicker and Eddie Preciado (No. 8) convinced me to come back to play,” Juarez said. “It has been challenging coming back and there has been a lot of pressure, but so far I’m doing well. My furthest kick was 34 yards against Mira Costa. I hope to surpass that in the upcoming games.
“Preciado and I have been friends since the sixth grade. He tried to learn how to kick at one point and he just didn’t do well as a kicker” Juarez jokes as he nudges Preciado. “There’s this whole sequence of movements you have to master; your body has be angled at 45 degrees and you have to take so many steps back then to the left, then kick with the inside of your foot as straight as you can while your knee is locked and straight.”
Juarez contributes to his community by being a part of the Amigos Club, an organization that befriends children and teens with disabilities.
“We take them around the city to lunch, or the movies, or setup different activities for them. We make them feel equal to everyone. Just because they have a certain disability doesn’t mean they have to be treated any less or different. Everyone should be accepted and it’s a great cause. No matter what the situation, you always want to stay strong and positive because there is enough sadness in the world, so focus on the beautiful in life.”
Before every kick, Juarez does the sign of the cross for his dear friend Dodi Soza, who collapsed and passed away a year ago due to a respiratory illness.
“Dodi is my motivation to be perfect on every kick. I miss him every day. He was such a great kid. He never made it to varsity; not because he wasn’t good enough to play, but because the roster was filled up,” Juarez said. “When he passed it hit us each hard. This is why I came back to football. It’s a brotherhood environment where everyone is there for each other. You can’t find a better support system in any other sport than how you find it in football.”
Juarez hopes to attend a big university locally and obtain a degree.
“Getting accepted (into college) would be the best way I can repay my parents for all their hard work and all the sacrifices they have made to bring us to a better country with more opportunities. I hope to provide for them someday the way they have provided for me. This season is dedicated to my parents and Dodi. I hope to make them both proud.”
Published: Oct. 2, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 25