Senior Clara Gomez doesn’t remember much about when she started playing soccer, but she does remember her father, Jorge Gomez, who is her biggest inspiration.
“I mostly remember my dad being my coach and staying with me after practice and working on things even as a kid,” she said. “He was so passionate about soccer with me.”
Jorge’s love for soccer, however, was not passed on to Clara’s sister, Daniela.
“She tried (to play soccer),” Clara said. “She was one of those ones that picked daisies in the field. We’re completely opposite people. She was (into) makeup and hair, clothes and fashion. It’s weird how you grow up in the same house and are so different.”
Clara played three years of varsity soccer in high school with a group of girls she characterized as “tough.”
“They were a really hardcore group of girls,” she said. “They wouldn’t back down from a fight. You got some backup on the field and you definitely want them on your side.”
Clara played for two years at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California.
The Falcons won state championships both years Clara played at Cerritos.
However, the Orange, California, native decided she wanted to leave California to finish her degree. Clara arrived at Idaho for the spring offseason before her junior year.
“I came out here and I definitely wanted to get out of busy California,” she said. “I came out here and just connected with all these girls. These girls really make you feel part of the family.”
Idaho head coach Derek Pittman said Clara had to transition to a new type of play at Idaho.
“I was concerned a little bit about how she would adjust to the speed of play, the physicality of the game at the Division 1 level,” he said. “It was very important for her to be here during that spring semester when she transferred in, to get acclimated.”
After an adjustment period, Pittman said Clara meshed well with the team.
“She continues to be an integral piece in our defense and our offense,” he said. “I think that’s what I love about her the most is she can play on both sides of the ball. She defends very well … she’s a big threat for us on the attack. I think she’s had a really positive story here.”
Clara graduates next spring with a degree in exercise science. She plans to become an occupational therapist after completing a graduate program.
“I’ve worked with elderly people, younger people,” Clara said. “I really like the younger crowd. They’re a lot of fun to work with.”
Tess Fox can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos