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Seniors look to end on a high

TDW senior goalkeeper Bryan Sanchez makes a diving stop on a shot in Friday’s second session of daily doubles. Sanchez is one of five all-league players making a return for the surging Eagle Indians in 2013.

TDW senior goalkeeper Bryan Sanchez makes a diving stop on a shot in Friday’s second session of daily doubles. Sanchez is one of five all-league players making a return for the surging Eagle Indians in 2013. Photo by Mark Gibson.

— One of the most bittersweet parts for high school athletes is when the four-year journey comes and goes with a snap of the fingers.

Such is the case for eight seniors on The Dalles Wahtonka boy’s soccer squad.

Of course, wins and losses, successes and failures, pain and ecstasy are as much part of the game as dribbling and running.

“It has flown right away,” said senior goalkeeper Bryan Sanchez. “I can’t believe that it is almost over. I remember playing in my first varsity game and it was exciting. We lost, but now it is my last year, so hopefully we can go farther than we have the past three years that I have been here on varsity.”

Armando Minguela remembers trying out for the team as a freshman, earning a spot on junior varsity.

In my sophomore year, he was called up to varsity for the playoffs, and last year, he made the team, but had to sit out for a short span due to grades.

Minguela is back for his final season, with hopes of finishing with a bang.

He owes it to so many to stay on course with good grades, solid citizenship and a positive attitude to make it all work out.

There is no turning back.

“It really does give us more reason to stay together and play all the way through to see how we can do,” said Minguela, a forward on the varsity team. “I really want all of the upcoming varsity players coming up from JV, to be coachable, so that all of the older players can teach them more about the game and correct them to make them better players in the future when I am gone. I think if we all make each other better, we can play with anybody.”

Being coach of TDW for his 11th year, head coach Luis Gamez mentored many productive young men over his career.

In that span, this senior group is one of the largest he has coached.

From Sanchez and Minguela, Gamez has played a fatherly role in the lives of others seniors such as Christian Garcia, Sergio Rios, Ernesto Rodriguez and Alexis Elias.

Through the course of their time in the program, Gamez said all of the athletes have been through the grind across the JV and varsity ranks.

“They know what is required to be successful,” Gamez said. “We are fortunate to have all of those guys coming back. At the same time, they know that every minute they play is one less minute they will play at the high school level. I think they know they have to take advantage of the playing minutes that they get.”

When the final whistle blows at whatever point in the season TDW makes it, these athletes will shake hands, share hugs, shed some tears and move on in their lives to either college or career in locations near or far away.

The one bond they will always share is soccer and all the camaraderie over the years in get-togethers, bus rides and practices.

“This is my family,” Garcia said. “We are like brothers. I know I will do anything for them and they would do the same for me. Soccer is just a small part of it.”

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