Forging A Path

Upon agreeing to sit down with me and speak about the path fate chose for him, which was carved out through his faith in God, parental decisions and relationships formed, a breakthrough happened. Coach Christian Anguiano and I were able to really shed light upon what it means to be a first-generation Mexican-American who found success.

Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Anguiano and his family found their way to the United States and settled into the Pacific Northwestern town of Burley, Idaho, at the age of 5. Armed with big hopes and dreams for not only themselves, but for Christian and the rest of his family, they rolled the dice and came to America. Their gamble paid off, seeing that he was able to receive a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology Sociology from Eastern Oregon University and a master’s degree from Portland State University in educational leadership.

Without much help outside of his direct familial relationship, Christian realized that in order to achieve success, he had to put in the work and do what success requires of anyone attempting greatness. Studying, working the jobs he could, gaining empowerment from his idea of a bright future for himself, and with the help of a soccer ball, Anguiano hopped over each and every boundary that seemed to get in his way. Whether those boundaries were the lack of assistance from the U.S. government through FAFSA, lack of proper guidance and not having a way of legally driving himself to and from places, nothing was too high of an obstacle to overcome.

While his path is unique in its own right, similarities can be drawn from that of others who immigrate to the U.S in search of a better life. Large families, whose second language is English, lack the proper knowledge to navigate channels and struggles to legally do the basic needs that comes with being a U.S. citizen and efficient bureaucracy can make it hard for those not born in this country to really take advantage of the system that is set up for citizens. And while U.S. citizens may not feel these effects, it is apparent that those born in this country fail to realize just how hard it is to not only come to this country, but to also find success in the way Anguiano did.

Seeing that the systems in play lacked the proper support that would benefit him, Anguiano had to make his own. Managing to get a scholarship, Anguiano found another avenue of emotional support through his coach Rodriguez here at EOU fairly later than when many people are able to find a support system, starting in his junior year of college. The ideals his coach had were some that Anguiano was all too familiar with through his own family, which empowered him to embrace his own beliefs and double down on his well-held values. These ideals further pushed him to keep moving forward, to craft his own pathway and develop a system that truly works for him.

While everyone has their own idea of success, being able to give back to those he loves and cares for is a big example of what has really defined Anguiano’s meaning for this subjective word. Having to really put the work in and wholeheartedly try to define his ideals was no easy feat, however. Anguiano expressed that he had to figure out how his tuition, rent and day to day living expenses were going to be covered, all while battling his own fears, insecurities and overwhelming stress. Keep in mind that when Americans go through these sorts of things, it can often be expected that family and loved ones will provide some sort of assistance in the aforementioned areas that Anguiano struggled with, but in his own situation, that isn’t the case. At 18, with about $1,000 saved up for school and little to no opportunities to truly progress, Anguiano found grace through his soccer scholarship, mentoring from his coach and familial emotional support.

Like many of us, Anguiano’s humanity really shines through, giving way for his altruism to show. Embarking on a career in coaching and working with families enables Anguiano to engage with a community similar to that of his own upbringing and molding, seeing that he has met some players and people who have gone through similar struggles. He told me that “As for me, I have to understand my role, and that’s an assistant coach. I think what a lot of the players see is that ‘I know stuff about the game and I have experience.’ But I have that unique perspective of being where they were, where they are now. I was there five to six years ago, that was me in that spot, in their shoes. And I think, since I have that perspective, I’m able to share the same vision that my head coach had, along with making sure that players know that I got them too. You know. I will always make sure that the vision and the Objectives of the season are the most important things. But I also understand that it’s important to acknowledge that we’re dealing with human beings.” A truth told from this point of view really helps shine the light on what Anguiano strives toward and how his vision as a coach helps emulate the greats, because in reality, this is what it means to be great. Being there for a person, showing compassion, wisdom, understanding and empathy are qualities that are possessed by winners and champions, leaders and those who empower others.

This mindset and ideology held by Anguiano has helped him deal with pressure faced from a different perspective than that held from a player; it is interesting to dissect what differences can be found from the point of view held by a player and a coach. Kind of a strange thing, really, seeing that both a coach and a player are aiming for the same goal but actually end up achieving it through different means. Anguiano has managed to find that meaning on both sides of the coin, considering that his success as a player opened the door for him to pass on his wisdom and knowledge to the next generation of players.

From his time as a player, his focus and pressure stemmed from his performance on the pitch. For him, he states that it was easy to gauge and understand where he was at in terms of success, “I thought about this pretty frequently as a player. I felt like regardless of the result of a game, I as a player Always knew if I performed well, or if I performed bad. You know that the result always mattered. Of course, that’s the most important thing, but I guess what made me feel better about a bad result was my individual performance.” As a player, writing this article and putting these words to paper made it clear that all players go through this throughout their career. Train, perform, win, lose, repeat. A constant cycle that is only broken when the time of playing comes to an end. All players know this experience, this feeling, this state of being, and what Anguiano said really drives home that fact. But what about the other side? The one people often forget? Anguiano, in his two years of coaching, has come to acknowledge and appreciate that it isn’t always the players that are truly under the pressure.

“From a coach’s point of view, individual performances don’t matter. It’s all about results. And that’s a big difference. If the team isn’t performing, if we don’t get the win at the end of the game, it’s ‘What did I do as a coach? What did I do as an assistant coach?’ Is it the tactics, did I not put the right players in? Did I not set the team up for success?” These things matter as a coach, and as a player, one can realize that not only is there less pressure, but the pressure is also different. Lack of or over-communicating, as Anguiano also stated, can really determine the game. “Did I not say the right things? You start thinking about it more. You start thinking about it more as a collective.” Having to focus on not only one position as a player but on each of the 11 positions as a whole is a deep focus that is held by a coach, as Anguiano stated, “You’re thinking about every single player and how the collaboration occurs and what that’s going to look like with the 11 players on the field. I think that’s the biggest difference is looking at the team as a whole.”

To add on to the pressure of being a new coach, Anguiano comes from a different generation than that of the current players. With every era, a new generation of people come through to fill the gaps left by those gone. Each generation has something that another one lacks or improves on and through Anguiano’s eyes, this is no different. When on a team, players tend to take it upon themselves to really represent what the team stands for and strives toward. Victory, defeat, happiness, sadness, the ups and downs and the good and the bad all play a role when defining what makes up a team. In the case of what Anguiano has experienced, his biggest notice is the sense of pride the current generation has. It can be difficult to really do what is required when not everyone is on board or holds the same high level of pride as one another. Although it is lacking, Anguiano and the coaching staff, along with the players, are doing everything they can to regain their sense of pride so that everyone can move forward together.

Coach Anguiano has come far in his life, and just like everyone else, he wants to succeed. The memories and experiences he’s made along the way, along with making his own parents proud and truly finding success through the avenues he’s walked, has helped him represent what many people hope to find when coming to The United States. Anguiano is a testament to what it means to find success in life. Whether it’s guiding his players, guiding his family, giving back to the community or just getting back in touch with his roots, we know that everything is given to those who work hard and believe, just as Anguiano has proven.

Spread the love