Jesus Rodriguez: Soccer Player of the Year
Receiving an Oregon Sports Awards honor proved to be the ultimate piece of validation for outgoing senior Jesus Rodriguez of Woodburn High School.
After finishing as the runner-up in the 5A Player of the Year vote as a junior, Rodriguez can now officially say he was the best all-classification player in the state during the 2018-2019 season.
The Oregon Sports Awards committee tabbed Rodriguez as the recipient of this year's Prep Boys Soccer Player of the Year award over finalists Oscar Macias (Forest Grove) and Avery Whipple (Corvallis). Rodriguez was named the 4A Player of the Year in 2018 as well.
He accepted his award on NBC Sports Northwest's "The Noe Show" with Brian Noe on Thursday. Sport Oregon and NBC Sports Northwest also recognized Prep Girls Soccer Player of the Year Katie Duong (Jesuit) on the air.
The award qualified Rodriguez as one of three athletes vying for the 4A/3A/2A/1A Prep Athlete of the Year, which ultimately went to Banks senior Blake Gobel on July 9.
"I can't think of anyone more deserving for the award," Woodburn boys soccer head coach Leroy Sanchez said. "Jesus is not only an outstanding soccer player, but also has become a great human being. To see how far he has come, has been amazing."
He helped the Bulldogs capture back-to-back state titles at the 5A classification in 2016 and 2017. Woodburn dropped down to 4A this fall and won its third straight state championship and finished with a 17-1 overall record behind Rodriguez.
A forward, Rodriguez finished the season with 20 goals and 18 assists.
Along the way he was selected Conference Player of the Year in the Oregon West Conference, named to the Statesman Journal's All-Mid Valley Team and garnered First Team All-Conference and All-State honors in his junior and senior years. He posted 63 goals and 38 assists for his career.
Rodriguez is one of five graduating members of the Woodburn soccer team to attend and play soccer at Chemeketa Community College this fall. He has five siblings and will be the first member of his family to attend college.
"Jesus was a student who never thought that college was possible," Sanchez said. "He thought graduating was going to be a stretch for him, but [graduated] and was responsible in doing so. He has done everything in his power to make him and his family proud by finishing school, and since he is the oldest in his family, will be setting the standard for his younger siblings."
Rodriguez received opportunities to play club soccer but chose to stay close to Woodburn. He served as the Bulldog football team's placekicker in addition to playing soccer last fall. Rodriguez competed for Woodburn's wrestling and track and field teams throughout high school.
He also agreed to be the Bulldogs' varsity basketball team manager this year after trying out for the team and not making the roster.
Rodriguez volunteered this spring as a youth soccer coach and intends to continue coaching because "the youth is the future." Rodriguez writes poetry in his spare time, too, and has participated in Poetry Out-Loud.
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