High school soccer: Skyview’s Villalpando wills his dream into reality

Cut two times by the Storm, he never gave up hope and now is a team leader

VANCOUVER — It took years of disappointment, frustration before Diego Villalpando could experience this joy.

As a freshman, he was cut after tryouts with the Skyview soccer team.

As a sophomore, he did not even go out for the high school program in the sport he loves.

Diego Villalpando worked his entire high school career just to make it to the Skyview soccer squad. Now a senior, and on the team for the first time, he is hoping to help the Storm reach the state tournament. Photo by Mike Schultz
Diego Villalpando worked his entire high school career just to make it to the Skyview soccer squad. Now a senior, and on the team for the first time, he is hoping to help the Storm reach the state tournament. Photo by Mike Schultz

As a junior, he gave it another try, only to be told he still was not good enough.

“I just wanted to be part of this team,” Villalpando said. “I kept trying, kept training, hoping I could make it.”

Training on his own. Playing on Sunday league teams. More training.

This year was going to be different, though.

This year, he made the team.

“Every time I put on Skyview gear, I train harder because I’m trying to represent the school,” he said.

This year, he did so much more than just make the team.

“He is our second leading scorer and one of our most dynamic players,” Skyview coach Colleen McKinney said. “Diego is the perfect example of how spirit, belief in one’s self, and high character can overcome adversity.”

Skyview senior Diego Villalpando is a first-year varsity player who made a huge impact with the Storm. He is the team’s second leading scorer. Photo by Mike Schultz
Skyview senior Diego Villalpando is a first-year varsity player who made a huge impact with the Storm. He is the team’s second leading scorer. Photo by Mike Schultz

Villalpando never blamed the coaches for their decisions. Instead, he used those decisions as motivation.

“I was pretty disappointed in myself,” he said, recalling that feeling his freshman year when he was cut. “I was disappointed in myself, but it pushed me to train harder.”

As a sophomore, he acknowledged his game was not ready, so he did not even try out for the squad.

He focused instead on coming out for Skyview soccer as a junior. Again, though, he was told he simply was not good enough.

“It felt like freshman year again,” Villalpando said.

Diego Villalpando never gave up on his dream. Cut twice from the Skyview soccer program, he kept training, kept improving, and this year he has become one of the team’s top players. Photo by Mike Schultz
Diego Villalpando never gave up on his dream. Cut twice from the Skyview soccer program, he kept training, kept improving, and this year he has become one of the team’s top players. Photo by Mike Schultz

Much like his freshman frustration, he turned his junior journey into more motivation.

“I decided to train a lot harder, eat better, and better myself for the next year,” he said.

He never blamed the coaches.

“They actually pushed me to train harder, play harder,” he said.

He said he knew, deep down, the coaches made the right decisions at the time. He was not ready. But he also used those decisions as fuel.

“Never give up. Keep on training. Try harder. Push yourself,” he said. “Just because someone says you can’t do it, you can prove them wrong.”

The perseverance paid off this season.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said of making the team. “First person I told was my mom. She was really excited, too. Finally, for my last year, I was able to join the team.”

Diego Villalpando says he loves wearing Skyview soccer gear. He wants to represent his school, plus the gear is a reward for all of his hard work. He was cut from the program twice, but he always believed he could become a key piece of the Skyview soccer machine. Photo by Mike Schultz
Diego Villalpando says he loves wearing Skyview soccer gear. He wants to represent his school, plus the gear is a reward for all of his hard work. He was cut from the program twice, but he always believed he could become a key piece of the Skyview soccer machine. Photo by Mike Schultz

That team won its second consecutive Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title, too, thanks in part to Villalpando. Skyview plays Rogers of Puyallup at 6 p.m. Thursday night at Kiggins Bowl in a bi-district playoff. The winner will qualify for the Class 4A state tournament.

Villalpando is one of the key players in this championship season at Skyview.

He had an overtime goal to beat Battle Ground in what turned into a crucial victory in the quest for a league title. Skyview had opened league play with a loss and was in overtime in that second match. A loss there could have changed the whole season.

Villalpando scored, and something incredible happened.

“The whole team ran to me,” Villalpando said. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

The guy who was not good enough to be on the team a year ago was the hero in a crucial match.

“It was a really big accomplishment for me,” Villalpando said.

“Our entire team has learned from him,” McKinney said. “Think of that … never making the team until this year and now teaching through example to the same young men who are three-year varsity players. So amazing. So wonderful.”

In fact, Villalpando said his favorite thing associated with the season is not a single goal or a big victory. It is being part of the Skyview family.

“I’ve come in my last year, and I’ve been accepted by all the soccer players,” he said.

Because Diego Villalpando is soccer player, too.

This year, he became a Skyview soccer player.

Wednesday’s postseason highlights

Baseball

Spencer Andersen and Jimmy Wallace combined to pitch a one-hit shutout, leading Ridgefield to a 1-0 victory over state power W.F. West in the semifinals of the Class 2A District 4 baseball tournament.

Clayton Madsen got a one-out single in the fifth inning, advanced to second base on a walk and eventually scored on an error for the only run of the game.

With the win, the Spudders have qualified for the state tournament.

Ridgefield will face Columbia River in the district championship game. Xavier Ulrich drove in five runs, leading the Chieftains to a 10-4 win over Tumwater in the other district semifinal.

The district title game is 5 p.m. Friday in Chehalis.

Meanwhile, Woodland beat Rochester 12-8 to remain alive in the consolation bracket. Woodland needs to win two games Saturday to qualify for state.

In the 4A bi-district, Skyview’s Kyle Olson drove in four runs, leading the Storm to a 9-2 win over Kennedy Catholic in an elimination game. The Storm are in the final four of the consolation bracket now and will play two games Saturday. They need to win one of those games to qualify for state.

In the 3A bi-district, Evergreen’s season came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Peninsula.

Soccer

Seton Catholic fell 2-1 to Forks in the semifinals of the Class 1A District 4 boys soccer tournament. The Cougars will face Columbia White Salmon at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Seton Catholic in a consolation match that will determine a state berth.

La Center’s season came to an end Wednesday with a 5-0 loss to Hoquiam.

Track and field

The Class 4A and 3A District 4 track and field meet started Wednesday and will resume Thursday. We plan on listing every winner from both days in Friday’s roundup.

We'd love to hear your comments!

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

Related posts