Goodbye home, hello unknown

Incoming freshman athletes from out of state reveal why they chose to travel to SPU

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Luis Ruiz Zazueta as a kid with his teammates. (Courtesy of Luis Ruiz Zazueta)

For most college athletes, their definition of what they call home changes quite frequently, especially those who plan to study in a completely unfamiliar place. The fear of the unknown makes it hard for aspiring athletes to make the venture away from home. 

Home is where the heart is; home is where people begin to learn who they are. For college athletes, home is where they discovered their love for their sport.

One of these athletes is freshman Luis Zazueta. He will be playing for the Seattle Pacific University soccer team as a forward. Zazueta is making the long journey to Seattle from Tucson, Arizona, trading the countless days of scorching heat for rainy skies. 

Much of Zazueta’s inspiration for playing soccer came from those relationships that he will be leaving behind. 

“I grew up in a soccer household. My brother would always be watching the Chivas games when I was little and I started watching with him. I didn’t start playing competitively until I was seven years old,” said Zazueta.

This shift from Arizona to Seattle may be scary for his parents, but Zazueta is confident in his decision to come to SPU.

“I may be far from home, but I believe it will motivate me to work harder because my parents didn’t want me to leave so far away. It is what was best for me,” said Zazueta, “I see a lot of potential in this team. I believe we have what it takes to bring the national title home. I feel right at home even though I’m thousands of miles away.” 

As he spends the next four years of his college career playing for the SPU men’s soccer team, Zazueta plans to improve himself and become a vital member of his team.

“I’m looking to work my hardest and not only earn a starting spot but make everyone else around me better as well. I want to be a helping hand to the team to win the GNAC and the NCAA national title,” said Zazueta. 

Another athlete who has decided to make the voyage to SPU is freshman business major Emily Tulino. Tulino will be playing as a setter for the volleyball team and is coming from San Diego, CA.

Besides her love for her teammates and the volleyball program, one of her driving points for choosing SPU was the weather. 

“I have always been very attracted to the Pacific Northwest, the greenery, and the rain, but the girls on the team and the coaches that were a part of the volleyball program really sealed the deal for me.  They are all such amazing and kind humans,” said Tulino. 

Tulino began playing volleyball at a young age recreationally with her family before moving on to play competitively. 

“Both of my parents played volleyball in college, so I grew up playing volleyball on the beach with my parents and my sister. I did not start playing club volleyball until I was 12 years old. My family is the reason I started playing,” said Tulino. 

Tulino has decided to embrace the unfamiliarity even though it is hard for her to leave her loved ones, instead of dwelling on the hardships of moving far away as other students may do.

“I am super excited for the independence and the freedom that living away from home will give me, but I am definitely sad not to see my close friends and family every day anymore,” said Tulino, “Creating new relationships distracts me from thinking about home a ton, but there is always comfort in knowing that they are one phone call away as well.” 

During her time at SPU, Tulino hopes to make herself and her team better while elevating the level of play. She hopes that she can see her team win the conference at some point over the next four years. 

Zazueta and Tulino are only two of the many athletes who will be traveling to SPU for athletics, but they are great representatives for how to take on the unknown with bravery and grace. It would be wise to watch out for these incoming athletes as they bring forth their own unique flares to their respective teams.