But there’s more to Pelayo than what’s seen on the soccer field.
While working as a busboy at MJ’s Downtown Café and Bakery, Pelayo met a woman who helped get him an internship at the Byron Airport. What began as an odd job became a passion when Pelayo climbed into the cockpit of a jet. That’s when he realized he wanted to study aerospace engineering, either as a pilot (non-military) or engineer.
“I was scared coming out for my senior year; all of my friends seemed to know what they wanted to do, and I really didn’t,” Pelayo said. “Getting to go to the internship was really great and helped clear that up.”
In order to realize his dream of aerospace engineering, Pelayo must first study at a junior college; then onto a four-year school.
Sal Acevedo Jr. is in his first year as Freedom’s coach. When he took the helm, one of the first things he noticed was his team’s coachability. One of the players in that mold is Pelayo, one of the team’s captains. Despite working a job, Pelayo manages to play soccer at a high level while also maintaining a strong grade point average. But his coach is as impressed with the attitude as the results.
“For a kid his age, it’s admirable,” Acevedo said. “He’s smiling when he goes to school, when he comes to play and when he goes to work.”
On the field, teammates, coaches and Pelayo himself all believe his best attribute is a constant work ethic and tireless training routine. He takes more pride in that than anything else.
And yet, while he wants to play in college, Pelayo knows he needs to improve to get to that level. His skills on the ball need to improve and, according to junior Raul Lopez, “He needs to work on his awareness, knowing where his teammates are. He’s good, but that needs to get better.”
While Pelayo has a lot to balance in his life, he manages to keep it in a simple perspective: “After school, I go to work, come home, do my homework, and then go play soccer. A friend of mine found a quote on Google and it really stuck with me: ‘Whenever you’re not practicing, someone better than you is.’”