Daniela Solis is living her soccer dream
Back when she played soccer at the high school level, Daniela Solis was definitely a star for Sherwood.
Now, nine years later, Solis is still playing soccer.
She's still a star.
But, now, she's a star for an entire country.
Solis, a 2011 Sherwood High School graduate, is still shining while playing the sport she loves, while also getting to travel the world, as a women's professional soccer player in Mexico.
"I'm making a living doing what I love to do," Solis said recently when she was back in Sherwood on vacation. "I can't believe that I'm living a dream. I've always dreamed of playing professional soccer."
And that dream, and soccer, have taken Solis all over the world.
"The traveling has been great," said Solis, who, as a Sherwood freshman, scored the only goal of the match in the Lady Bowmen's 1-0 win over Bend in the 2007 Class 5A state championship match.
For Solis, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has dual citizenship, the traveling began even while she still attending Sherwood. She missed part of her senior season with the Lady Bowmen to play for the Mexican national ages U-17 women's soccer team that played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Trinidad and Tobago.
That was just the start of things.
After graduating from Sherwood, Solis moved on to play college soccer at Portland State University, where she joined a pair of her former Lady Bowmen teammates, Amanda Dutra and Michelle Hlasnik.
In 2012, Solis played for the Mexican U-20 team that took third place in the 2012 FIFA World Cup held in Japan.
Then, in 2013, Solis moved to Monterrey, Mexico.
"I wanted a change," Solis said. "I waned to get closer to my Mexican heritage. It was a life-changer for me."
Solis attended the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.
"It was the No. 1-ranked university in Latin America, and they had the best soccer program in Mexico," Solis said.
Solis, who played mainly at forward for the Wild Rams, found plenty of success playing college soccer in Mexico.
"We won everything," Solis said with a smile. "We were that good. The level of competition was good. I didn't have to adjust too much, but I had to be more physical. I adapted quickly."
On the road again
In 2013, Solis played for the Mexican national team that competed in the FISU World University Championships, held in Kazan, Russia.
"That was a really important event," Solis said. "We had all college representatives for the team, and we took second place. We lost to Great Britain in the finals. But that was a door-opener for a lot of things."
In 2016, Solis was part of the Mexican team that competed in the FISU games held in Goiania, Brazil. But, this time, it wasn't exactly for soccer.
"We went for futsal," Solis said. "It's like indoor soccer, but with special rules and a special ball. It was the first time a Mexican team had played futsal internationally."
While Solis was certainly a soccer veteran at that point, futsal, which is played on a smaller, harder court, with five on each side, was something totally new.
"It was the first time that anyone on our team had played futsal," she said. "It was all completely new to us, but we were ready for the challenge."
The Mexican team ended up taking fifth place out of 13 teams.
"We didn't do too bad," Solis said.
There was more traveling in 2017, when Solis played for the Mexican women's soccer team that competed in the FISU 2017 Summer Universiade event, held in Taipei, China.
"That added onto my international curriculum," Solis said. "It was a good experience."
The Mexican team went 2-2-1 at that event, beating Canada 1-0 in the seventh-place match. Solis, playing at a wing position, scored four goals for Mexico in the tournament.
But, after all of that traveling, things started to get very interesting for Solis.
"Now comes the fun part," she said with a laugh.
Solis was about to finish up getting her Bachelor's degree when things took a turn.
"I planned to come back home and work," said said.
But something big happened instead.
"It was huge news," she said. "Mexico was going to start a women's professional league. So I decided to stay and play pro soccer."
Solis joined the league, known as Liga MX Femenil, and signed with Club Monterrey. The league debuted in July of 2017.
"Changes happened on the go," Solis said.
The league, which will feature 19 clubs in its upcoming season, has held four seasons over the past two years, with Club Monterrey reaching the finals twice.
"Our team is fairly good," said Solis, who plays at left wing for Las Rayadas.
Monterrey fell to Las Tigres UANL, based out of San Nicholas, Nuevo, Mexico, both times it reached the finals. Back in May 2018, Las Rayadas fell 3-2, on aggregate, to UANL in the finals. The last match was played in front of a crowd of 51,211 — a world record for a women's club match.
"I never thought I'd play in front of that many fans," Solis said.
Meanwhile, Solis has ranked among the league's top eight scorers in all four seasons.
"That's pretty cool," Solis said with a smile.
Solis made her debut with the Club Monterrey squad shortly after returning from China.
"It was three days later, there was a 16-hour time difference and I was jet-lagged," she said. "I was falling asleep, and we were playing our arch rivals."
But, with just 10 minutes left in the match, Solis scored the winning goal in the Rayadas' 2-1 victory.
"It was the perfect situation for any player," Solis said. "It was really cool."
While that was a special moment, and playing professional soccer is also special, Solis is also looking out for her future.
Away from the pitch
"Part of my negotiations with the club was that I wanted them to pay for my continued studies," Solis said. "I want to get my Masters (degree) in Sports Marketing."
So now, Solis is taking online courses with the Johan Cruyff Institute of Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Solis is also benefitting from her salary from the Monterrey club.
"I bought my first car with my own money," she said with a smile. "And my parents (Hector and Sonia Solis) are proud of me, that makes me happy."
In addition to the money, and the continuing education, there are other things that come with being a professional soccer player — fame and responsibility.
"Two weeks ago, I was out having an early dinner with my parents in Mexico," Solis said. "Everyone kept coming up, asking for pictures and autographs."
But that was OK with the former Lady Bowmen star.
"It's a good thing," Solis said. "There's a responsibility in being a public figure. Young girls are looking up to me. My club does a lot of responsible things, and I have to be accountable. They use me in all of their commercials."
In addition to the soccer commercials, Solis has also done work with Nissan of Mexico and Monterrey Bariatrics.
"I'm also talking to sports brands, Nike, Adidas and Puma," Solis said.
As for the future, Solis, 26, is already looking ahead.
"I'll probably play another five or six years," she said. "Things will keep getting better, and the league will keep growing. The league is looking at broadcasting internationally, and it's going to open up to Mexican-American players."
Beyond that, there just may be a trip back to the local area for Solis.
"After I'm done playing, then I want to take advantage of my Sports Marketing Masters," she said. "Working back up here would be great. With all of my soccer experience, I've opened a lot of doors. I've made a lot of good contacts."
Of course, there are a lot of special people to Solis in the local area.
"A lot of people have helped me get to where I am," she said. "My parents and (former Sherwood High School girls soccer coach) Bill Brown have been really special."
And so have been Solis' time playing soccer at Sherwood. According to Brown, Solis is still the Lady Bowmen's all-time leading goal-scorer, and she ranks second all time in assists.
"My freshman year and my senior year were my favorite seasons," Solis said of her days at Sherwood. "But I remember all of the years. It was fun."
Fun, and the start of a soccer dream come true.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.