Crete-Monee’s Fernando Aguirre leads on and off the field

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Fernando Aguirre was born without the lower part of his left arm. When the Crete-Monee senior is on the soccer field, though, that doesn’t matter.

“The moment I step on the pitch and start playing, I don’t even think about all that,” Aguirre said. “That just stops. I just play the game.”

He plays it well, too.

A four-year varsity performer who’s likely to be a four-time all-Southland Conference performer, Aguirre has taken his game to a new level in his senior season.

Entering the Warriors’ final regular-season game against Rich Central, Aguirre had scored 26 goals, bringing his career total to 64.

“We’ve had seniors in the past, Jake Cogan last year, that were doing a lot of scoring for us,” Aguirre said. “I was mostly giving out assists. With them gone, though, I knew I needed to step up and score more.”

Aguirre said he’s never been told what caused the underdeveloped arm.

“I was born in Mexico, and none of the doctors knew why it happened,” he said about his arm. “There was no known cause for it.”

Soccer quickly became an escape for Aguirre, who found out fast that he can do great things with his feet.

“I’ve been playing for about 10 years now,” he said. “It’s just a lot of fun. I really love playing the game. It definitely helps to have activities outside of school when you apply for colleges and everything. I hope that I can keep playing beyond high school.”

There certainly will be plenty of opportunities for Aguirre after high school. He ranks 20th in his class at Crete-Monee with a 3.97 GPA, scored 29 on the ACT and is a member of the National Honor Society. He already has 26 college course credits.

“He’s a great leader and he sets a great example on and off the field,” Crete-Monee coach Neil Hodge said. “He’s also the best player I’ve seen this year on any team.”

Aguirre, who scored 21 goals last season, 12 his sophomore year and five as a freshman and also has 33 career assists, has been a captain the last two seasons.

Two coaches, Julian Lagunas last season and Hodge this year, deemed him worthy of that distinction.

“I’m taking my role as a captain very seriously this year,” Aguirre said. “I’ve really committed to my team. It means a lot to me to have that captain’s role and to be counted on as a leader, especially as a senior.”

He’s committed to helping his teammates improve, as well. On a team that starts more sophomores (four) than seniors (three), his leadership has been invaluable.

“It’s a great feeling being a leader of a team,” he said. “I get to motivate my players. I try to help them any way I can. I want them to continue to get better and perform at their best.”

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