Boys soccer: Patience pays off for Addison Trail's Hernandez
Anthony Hernandez has a lot of patience.
That can't be easy for any high school student-athlete these days, but it's one of the Addison Trail senior's attributes that has helped him develop into a great leader, which complements the already dangerous offensive threat he's become for the Blazers.
"I'm not one of those players who gets mad easy," he said. "I have a lot of patience and am always happy to help the guys when they're struggling. Every time they make a mistake, I tell them it's OK as long as you fix your mistakes."
Hernandez hopes that he and his fellow Blazers can cause plenty of chaos and force opponents into making lots of mistakes this spring. He's certainly made it a habit to do so already. After scoring 24 goals and distributing 11 assists in his first two seasons, Hernandez is ready to add to those totals while helping the Blazers (11-5-3 in 2019) win games.
"He uses his speed to create lots of offensive opportunities," Addison Trail coach Ryan Dini said. "And he can finish with either foot."
During quarantine, Hernandez joined a soccer club to keep on training, hopeful that a soccer season would arrive before he snagged a high school diploma. His faith has been rewarded.
"I joined Sockers to get training in before the high school season," he said. "I stayed in shape, improving my touch and everything. I'm really looking forward to this season. I'm hoping to have my best year."
He also hooks up as often as possible with his older brother, Jonathan, who proudly wore the Blazers uniform and is now playing at Dominican University.
"We always train together whenever we have time and he's home," he said. "He shows me technique of what I'm doing wrong and how I can fix it. And what he's really helped me most with all these years is my confidence."
Lessons learned from his big bro as well as from former team captains at Addison Trail have stuck with Hernandez. These days he's celebrating his role in passing such wisdom onto his younger teammates.
"Me and my other captains are always pushing the younger guys and motivating them to give the highest quality in practice and games and tell them to always be confident on the ball," he said. "Sometimes they can get nervous when the coaches are watching. I'm always trying to give them tips so they're not getting nervous and they're playing with confidence."
He's taken stock of his teammates and really likes what he sees in the limited time he's had with them. While he may be a two-time captain and all-conference selection, he recognizes that it's not a one-man show and only 7 varsity players have returned as 9 graduated.
"It's going to be a fun season for sure, especially during these times," he said. "We have a lot of talented players, especially younger guys this year, and those younger guys will be taking on roles they're not used to, but they are really good players so I'm not going to be too worried about that."
And why would he worry now that he's getting to play the game he loves for a community he's thrilled to be a part of again?
"As his coach, I am so grateful that he will be able to compete in his senior season and have the opportunity to coach him this spring," Dini said. "He will bring out the best from his teammates and help lead our team to a successful season."