Vancouver woman and pro athlete is an soccer ambassador for ELLA — Empowering Leadership in Latina Athlete
She only had a four-day break from her demanding schedule, working in Mexico City.
Yaneisy Rodriguez knew exactly where she wanted to spend her time: Back home in Vancouver, giving back to the community.
Rodriguez, a 2020 graduate of Columbia River High School, is a professional soccer player for Pumas Femenil in Mexico.
“It’s a dream to be able to come back and help out,” Rodriguez said Friday afternoon. “This place is special. It’s where family is. It’s home.”
Rodriguez visited Hudson’s Bay High School to donate $5,000 worth of equipment to the school’s soccer program. Rodriguez is a soccer ambassador for ELLA — Empowering Leadership in Latina Athletes.
She also represents Community First Soccer, a non-profit dedicated to making soccer accessible to all youth. Yaneisy’s brother, Iovani, is one of the founders of CFS. After the donation of the equipment on Friday, CFS held a soccer clinic for Hudson’s Bay and Fort Vancouver athletes.
Yaneisy attended Columbia River for its International Baccalaureate program, as well as to play for one of the best high school soccer programs in the Northwest. She grew up in the Hudson’s Bay area. It was her former high school coach, Filomon Afenegus, who connected Yaneisy with Hudson’s Bay coach Tami Perkins.
“The needs were bigger at this school,” Yaneisy Rodridguez said.
She loves her role as an ambassador for the game, and for ELLA.
“It’s basically just helping out Latina and female athletes to be able to play the sport they love and excel in education,” Rodriguez said.
A two-time state champion at Columbia River, Rodriguez played a year at the University of Washington. Then an opportunity to go pro in Mexico presented itself. On her off time as a pro athlete, she takes online classes through Washington State in pursuit of a communications degree.
She has played for Pumas in Mexico City for two years.
“The city is beautiful. It’s amazing. I’ve got to learn about the culture and just how to adapt to a different environment,” Rodriguez said.
Spanish was her first language. She learned English when she was 6 years old. She said she had lost some of her Spanish skills, but they are quickly returning.
The Mexico City metro area consists of more than 22 million people.
“It feels like New York times 10. It’s a huge city,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of people, a lot of food, a lot of colors, vibrant. I’ve always considered myself as someone who likes to be around a lot of people, so I enjoy it.”
Someday, she hopes to represent Mexico in the World Cup. But Vancouver and America will always be home, too.
No matter how far her professional career takes her, she said she will always love her time at Columbia River.
“It was the best thing ever. My favorite memories, soccer wise, are with my high school team, especially the culture of the team,” Rodriguez said. “Filly did an amazing job of teaching us how to be leaders, teaching us how to be great people. High school soccer was amazing for me.”
Rodriguez hopes the girls playing today — whether they are competing for state championship or simply for the love of the game and their schools — will have similar experiences.
“Soccer, to me, is something that unites my family,” Rodriguez said. “Since we were little, we always played soccer. When I come to visit, we play soccer. Vacation? We play soccer. It’s something that ties my family together.”
It also has taken Yaneisy Rodgriguez to the professional ranks.
From Vancouver to Mexico City, and perhaps beyond. She said she would love to one day play professionally in Europe and in America. Her soccer career will last for as long as her body will allow, she said.
No matter where the game takes her, she will always make time for Clark County.
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