This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published December 3, 2020
As soon as he stepped on the field as a freshman, Victor Calvillo was already seeing varsity playing time for the East Haven boys’ soccer squad. After taking his junior year off from high school soccer, Victor returned as a senior and earned All-SCC Division B honors for a much- improved Yellowjackets’ club.
Victor spent his junior season playing for Shoreline FC in an effort to potentially earn a tryout with a team overseas. However, when his senior season rolled around, Victor decided that he wanted to play one last year with his friends on the Yellowjackets.
“It was my last year playing. All my friends were playing, and I wanted to support them,” says Victor. “I’m the type of person who is always pushing and pushing. I wasn’t going to let the team go down.”
Even before he suited up for East Haven, Victor already had several years of soccer experience. Victor started playing at age five in Mexico before moving to the United States when he was seven. Victor then spent time competing for the New York Red Bulls developmental team and the program at Joseph Melillo Middle School. Victor says that every step he took along the way taught him how to become the best version of himself on the soccer field.
“Playing around older people helped me understand how to be a leader,” says Victor. “Instead of just telling people what to do, the way you play, the way you communicate with other people—that will make them better. That’s how you make a team.”
When he reached East Haven High School, Victor immediately joined the Yellowjackets. He spent his freshman year cross-rostered with the JV and varsity squads. While he had plenty of experience, Victor found his freshman year challenging as he learned how to adapt to life in high school soccer.
“It was different. When you’re a freshman in high school, you’re little, and you don’t know what you’re going to face yet. I knew I wasn’t going to be the strongest or the fastest. But I knew with my skills, I would be able to face varsity opponents,” Victor says. “Other people would be bigger than you, and you sometimes feel like you don’t belong. But you play more games, and you get used to it. You feel like you belong.”
With some varsity experience under his belt, Victor felt more confident on the field as he entered his sophomore season. Victor now understood what it took to compete at the varsity level and had a better sense of the caliber of competition that he was facing.
“For me, it was a lot easier. I knew what was coming and the pace of everything,” says Victor. “My coaches told me that the emotion I played with on the field inspired the freshmen on the team. It helped me keep going and showed that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are—you will always have a place if you try.”
Victor didn’t play for East Haven in his junior year, but came back to the team as a senior this fall. The 2020 season marked Mike Papantonio’s second year as East Haven’s head coach, so it was the first time that he was able to work with Victor. Papantonio quickly saw Victor’s skills on display, and he knows that the Easties wouldn’t have had as much success as they did without the senior’s staunch performance on defense.
“It was easy to stick Victor at center back. When he was there, it was a position we didn’t have to worry about. You put him there, and you immediately eliminate a lot of mistakes. You reduce shots on goal significantly,” Papantonio says. “It’s big to have that confidence in a kid and know you could just stick him back there, and he’s going to clean up a lot of mistakes. He kept us in a lot of games and helped us win the ones we did.”
At the end of the season, Victor was selected to the All-SCC Division B Team alongside fellow senior Luis Agudelo. Victor says earning that accolade was an honor and credits his coaches and teammates for helping him get there. It also means a lot to Victor that he contributed to East Haven’s best season in recent memory by helping the team finish the year with four victories.
Victor is hoping to continue his soccer career after he graduates from East Haven. Victor loves playing soccer, because it allows him to be himself and let his passion for the pitch shine.
“I just like to play. I know there’s other people that are better than me. But when I see the ball, I have a different mentality. It sets me apart from others,” says Victor. “When I play, I forget about everything. It helps me release everything when I step on the field.”