BLOOMINGTON – Growing up as a soccer player, Juan Gomez-Velez got a late start on football.
When the 2010 Riverside Brookfield grad found his friends were playing football, Gomez-Velez made the switch and continued his career in college. The defensive back is entering his senior season with Illinois Wesleyan this fall.
“I played soccer my whole life and right before high school started, I was still talking to the soccer coach and going to summer camp,” Gomez-Velez said. “I realized all my friends were going to play football because that’s what they did when they were little kids. I’m decently athletic, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
“As soon as I started, I picked it up and I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun. Hitting is kind of a different dynamic that you can’t really do in any other sport.”
While Gomez-Velez also was a wrestler in high school and enjoys the physical side of football, he said his favorite part of the game is grabbing an interception. In that case, it’s a good thing he plays defensive back for the Titans.
Gomez-Velez applied for IWU academically and after he was accepted spoke to the football coach to get into the program. The physics major is studying for his GRE with the hopes of going to grad school and eventually becoming a physicist or a mechanical engineer.
On the field, he saw action in two games and made four tackles last season. The Titans started the season 6-0, but lost their last four games after losing their starting quarterback and backup signall caller to injury late in the season.
This fall, Gomez-Velez will be part of a senior class that hopes to finish off what the team started a year ago.
“We’re going to have the biggest class of seniors on the football team that we’ve ever had,” he said. “Right now we’re looking great. We have all these seniors that are all ready to lead the team, and I think we can get a conference championship and maybe move on a little bit further.”