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Whitney track and field athlete verbally commits to Brown University for soccer

Whitney High senior Mmasiolu Gamero will be taking her soccer talents to Brown University in the fall. Gamero has never played for Whitney’s soccer team, but is part of the United States Soccer Development Academy and also the Lady Wildcats track and field team.

 

 

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

January 27, 2021

Mmasiolu Gamero won’t have to change her color scheme too much when she begins her freshman year of college. For the past four years, she has worn the brown and gold of Whitney High and will be donning brown and red apparel when she begins her college life at Brown University in the fall.

Gamero has made a verbal commitment to the Ivy League institution but has already received her acceptance letter to the school. She will be going to Brown for soccer, but has never played one minute of the sport for the Lady Wildcats during her high school years.

“I wanted to go to Brown after I met the coaching staff and a few of the players at a Brown soccer camp that took place in San Diego,” Gamero said. “I had known since the ninth grade that I wanted to play soccer at an Ivy League school, but it was difficult to choose which one out of the eight I wanted to go to. After talking to different schools, heading out to camps and talking with the coaches, I thought Brown and Rhode Island may be the best fit for me. The campus is breathtaking and all of my teammates that are also graduating with the high school class of 2021 are super kind and easy to get along with.”

Gamero has been going to soccer camps since she was a freshman with the Brown camp being her first camp. During her time as a soccer player, Gamero has been to about half a dozen soccer camps put on by some of the Ivy League schools. The last Brown camp she went to was on Mar. 8, 2020 and was a one-day event that lasted six hours.

“A lot of these camps bring college coaches from other schools to evaluate players,” Gamero said. “So, while you may be at the Princeton camp, you’ll probably run into coaches from other schools like Columbia.”

Gamero, who plans to major in biology because she wants to go to medical school, made her decision official during the summer between her sophomore and junior years but admitted she had been leaning towards Brown since her freshman year. She also said that her mom really stressed the importance of an education growing up, which is what got her interested in going to an Ivy League school.

She had also considered Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton Universities. One of Gamero’s club teammates for six years is also going to Brown.

“The friendliness, the competitiveness and the fun made me decide that Brown had to be it,” Gamero said. “They also have won the Ivy League women’s soccer championship 13 times and I love to win.”

Whitney athletic director Jeff Day had her in his physical education class during her seventh and eighth grade years and was in awe the first few times he saw her.

“I was like, ‘wow, what an athlete’,” Day remembered. “[She’s] just powerful [with] her strength, explosiveness, quickness. It’s no wonder she’s going to be a great soccer player. She has all the ingredients she needs for soccer.”

He added that she’s very modest, won’t brag about herself or flaunt her athletic achievements, is well-liked and popular on campus and blends in with the student body.

Gamero, whose position is forward, plays for the Beach Futbol Club out of Long Beach; the only club team she has played for. With most of their games played in Southern California, the Beach Futbol Club trains at El Camino Community College and plays their home games at the ECC football stadium. When the pandemic halted all outdoor activities, she had started 18 of 19 games during her most recent season, scoring 17 goals, both marks ranking second on the team.

The fact that Gamero has never played soccer for Whitney isn’t unusual for many club soccer players. Since she was a freshman, she has played for the United States Soccer Development Academy, which doesn’t allow its players to play for their high school teams. And while she missed out playing for the Lady Wildcats, Gamero said playing for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has benefited her at the same time. She did get to travel the country to play in numerous showcases and games in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Washington.

“Unfortunately, playing out of state made it so I had to miss days and even weeks of school,” Gamero said. “But it was a lot of fun and something I really enjoyed. It was at these showcases and through game film that I got recruited instead of at high school games.”

“I wasn’t disappointed,” Day said of Gamero not playing at Whitney. “I get it now; sports are specialized and to be wanted and allowed to play at that level of play…good for her. It does make you wonder what if. But we were lucky enough to have her on the track team for a couple of years and I think she was part of one of our school record relay [teams] as a sophomore.”

Gamero’s father, who hails from Spain, was the one instrumental in getting her involved in the sport. She said growing up, school and soccer was all he did. She first started playing in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) at around the age of nine and eventually made her way to club soccer.

“I play more of a center forward role but can play anywhere across the front line,” she said. “One of my biggest accomplishments was probably scoring a hat trick in a Development Academy showcase game that determined whether we moved on to the quarterfinals or not. That game was the most stressful I had ever played.”

Gamero posted her hat trick in the second half of that game after missing on a penalty kick and her team would go on for a 4-0 win. She would lead her team in scoring during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. The 2019-2020 season was never completed because of the pandemic and her 2020-2021 campaign has yet to begin. Gamero’s 2017-2018 team won the Southwest Division and her2018-2019 team was ranked fourth in the nation.

“Club soccer has been so much fun.” Gamero said. “For the last four years, we have been training four days a week and playing games almost every weekend with short breaks during the winter holidays and for summer once our biggest showcase is done. [The] Coronavirus [pandemic] has made it so we now only train twice a week and we don’t play games. Training for an hour and a half four days a week was intense and with that came a sense of accountability. Because every single teammate was showing up and working extremely hard, none of us wanted to slack off.”

To keep in shape for soccer while at Whitney, Gamero has been a member of the track and field team since she was a freshman. She says that soccer and track and field go hand in hand and to play center forward, one needs to be fast and enjoy sprinting. Gamero became interested in track since her elementary school days and that interest encouraged her to join the Lady Wildcats team.

“It was difficult considering I already had school and soccer which took up basically all my time,” Gamero recalls. “But it was well worth it to get to know all the other runners and the coaching staff.”

One of her highlights in her brief time on the team came during her sophomore season when she was part of the 4 x 100 relay team, which knocked off favorite and city rival Cerritos High in the 605 League finals. Last season, Gamero didn’t spend too much time with Whitney because soccer became more demanding and she was beginning to fall behind in her schoolwork. But if there is a season, which is scheduled to begin in late March, she’ll definitely be ready.

“It’s obviously sad that we won’t get to run and compete like we usually do, but I think there are larger issues, like the pandemic, that have to be dealt with first,” she said. “While I wish I could see my teammates and hang out at the track with my friends, especially since we are seniors and this is our last year, I’d much rather be safe than sorry. If the season does start around March 20, and it’s safe, I’ll definitely be the first one at the track ready to tackle whatever crazy workout the coaches have planned for us.”

“It just shows that Whitney is a well-balanced school,” Day said. “If you look back, we’ve had tennis greats go to UCLA that were CIF all-around champs. We’ve had other athletes go to USC [and] we’ve had athletes [go to] all levels of NAIA and NCAA. It says a lot about the community too, just with the support and the facilities.”

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