When he came to the United States in 2005, former DCTC student and soccer player Alejandro De la Mora wanted nothing more than to learn English and get a college education.
Just two years later, not only is De la Mora fluent in English and well on his way to getting his degree, but he has also signed a contract with the Minnesota Thunder Professional Soccer Team for the 2007 season.
Born in Los Angeles, De la Mora only spent the first few months of his life in the United States before his parents decided to return to Mexico. The family moved to Cancun, where De la Mora would go to school and play soccer as a youth select player.
While he loved both soccer and school, he knew where his priorities were.
“My [late] father was an architect, and I was very inspired by him. I love soccer, but school was the priority for me – and still is – because I like being intelligent, having culture, and learning,” said De la Mora.
When he turned 16, De la Mora traveled to Guadalajara to play for the Mexican National Under 17 Soccer Program. Following his stint there, he returned home to play for his local club, Inter Playa del Carmen.
By 2004, De la Mora was ready to put the focus back on his education. One of his best friends had moved to Duluth, Minnesota three years earlier, and De la Mora decided to make the commitment to move there to learn English and get his degree.
“If I would have stayed in the southern United States, I never would have learned English as quickly as I did here because so many people speak Spanish. Duluth seemed like a good place to get started,” said De la Mora.
When he arrived in Duluth, he took a job working at a popular retail-clothing store. After only three months, De la Mora was comfortable understanding and speaking English.
He also joined a summer soccer team, where a fellow teammate saw his talent on the soccer field, learned of his ambitions to earn a college degree, and referred him to the DCTC soccer program.
Intrigued by the possibility of pursuing his education and playing soccer, De la Mora made the decision to drive to Rosemount to meet DCTC Athletics Director and Head Soccer Coach Cam Stoltz and take a look at the college. His arrival on campus happened to coincide with the first day of soccer practice, allowing him to get a good look at the team and the college.
“I was impressed by the support the soccer program had, Coach Stoltz, and the school’s environment. It felt like the right fit,” said De la Mora.
Within days, De la Mora was enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at DCTC, got involved with DCTC Student Senate, and was practicing with the men’s soccer team.
“I had a great experience at DCTC. Susan Farmer and Claudia Rose, my instructors, really helped me to be disciplined in the classroom and realize my true abilities. I got the opportunity to understand the English language and grammar really well,” said De la Mora. “And, on the field, I was making great friends and having a great time playing soccer, which helped keep me motivated to do well in my classes.”
“Alejandro is a perfect example of why our athletics program is valuable. Since DCTC had the academic program he wanted and the sport he loved, he was drawn to us over other schools. That is what we hope for with our athletics program – to entice students who might not otherwise consider us,” said Stoltz.
De la Mora quickly proved to be an impact player for DCTC during the 2005 season. He played all 22 games for DCTC, contributed one goal and six assists, and was named to the NJCAA All-Region First Team. His on-field efforts were enough that he began to draw the soccer interest of NCAA Division I programs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
While De la Mora was taking general education credits through DCTC during winter 2006, Nicole Meulemans, DCTC assistant director of student life, introduced him to the Minnesota Thunder Professional Soccer Team. Sharing his ambitions to move to a Division I university at some point, De la Mora was invited to play for the Thunder Reserve team, a summer team made up of local players who play NCAA Division I around the country.
Inspired by the possibilities of three years of college soccer eligibility and a full-ride athletic scholarship, De la Mora made the decision to realign his educational goals so he could transfer to a four-year university civil engineering program and get his bachelor’s degree.
De la Mora was soon recruited by Farleigh Dickenson University in New Jersey in addition to the two Wisconsin universities, but learned that he would have to change his major if he chose to transfer. Once again making education his priority, De la Mora decided to put in his application to the University of Minnesota, which does not have men’s soccer, and pass on the athletic scholarships. Fortunately, the connections he had made in the soccer world would pay off.
Minnesota Thunder Head Coach Amos Magee saw an opportunity once De la Mora decided to look at the University of Minnesota. In late April, Magee offered De la Mora the professional contract to play the position of right fullback for the Thunder, and he accepted.
“Playing for the Thunder is a great opportunity. I can keep pursuing my education the way I need to and play professional soccer,” said De la Mora.
Looking back at all he has accomplished in the last two years, De la Mora gives a great deal of credit to DCTC for getting him started on the right path.
“DCTC and Coach Stoltz gave me the support that I needed. I was part of an amazing soccer program, a great academic environment, great coaching, and a great program. It really helped lay the path for my future,” said De la Mora.
With De la Mora being the first former DCTC soccer player to sign a professional soccer contract, Stoltz is proud of what the Blue Knights have accomplished.
“Alejandro came to DCTC, was successful, and is now taking the next steps. His highest level of playing and his highest educational degree are still ahead of him, and I look forward to seeing his future unfold,” said Stoltz.
The Minnesota Thunder plays its next home game is Saturday, June 16 at the National Sports Center in Blaine vs. Miami FC at 7:35 p.m. For more information on Alejandro De la Mora and the Minnesota Thunder, visit www.mnthunder.com.
2007 Minnesota Thunder HOME Schedule
|SAT, June 16||MIAMI FC||7:35||National Sports Center|
|SUN, June 24||CALIFORNIA VICTORY||5:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|SUN, July 15||MONTREAL IMPACT||5:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|WED, July 18||MONTREAL IMPACT||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|THU, July 26||CALIFORNIA VICTORY||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|SAT, Aug 4||PORTLAND TIMBERS||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|THU, Aug 16||PORTLAND TIMBERS||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|SAT, Aug 18||ROCHESTER RHINOS||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|SAT, Aug 25||ATLANTA SILVERBACKS||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|THU, Sep 6||CAROLINA RAILHAWKS||7:05||James Griffin Stadium|
|SUN, Sep 9||SEATTLE SOUNDERS||5:05||James Griffin Stadium|