By Kristina Houck
Although new to the Solana Beach Soccer Club, Antonio “Tony” Cruz has already made a lasting impression on his team. The Torrey Pines High School freshman was recently named “Athlete of the Year” by the youth recreational program.
“He seems genuinely happy to be a part of the team and all those around him,” said Coach Michelle Moraga, who nominated Antonio for the award. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to have Antonio this past season. I feel he is very deserving of this award.”
The Peter Schmid Sportsmanship Award recognizes standout players for their sportsmanship and attitude. Representatives from the Solana Beach Soccer Club presented Antonio with a plaque that read “Athlete of the Year” during a brief ceremony March 18 at La Colonia Park.
“We take great pride in having our players show great sportsmanship,” said Jeff Lyle, president of the Solana Beach Soccer Club, which serves 400 players in kindergarten through 12th grade.
“[Antonio] is a great role model to his teammates and to other kids who are watching,” added Peter Cavanagh, the Peter Schmid Award coordinator. “He never gives up. If they’re getting beat badly, he’s still out there playing as hard as he can.”
Although the 2013-14 season was Antonio’s first with the Solana Beach Soccer Club, he has played the sport since he was in preschool.
“I was very surprised,” Antonio said. “I’m honored.”
Now 15 years old, Antonio said soccer has helped him develop sportsmanship and become organized on and off the field.
“I am proud because he has never received an award for playing sports,” said Antonio’s mother, Maria Cruz. Her daughter and Antonio’s 12-year-old sister, Gissell, helped translate.
In addition to playing for the Solana Beach Soccer Club, Antonio plays for a soccer team established by La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation, which works to improve Solana Beach’s Eden Gardens community. A representative from the foundation was in attendance at the award presentation.
“Tony is very well respected and engaged,” said Manny Aguilar, president and board chairman of the foundation, which launched its youth soccer program more than a year ago. “He really is a good kid.”
For more information about the Solana Beach Soccer Club, visit
For more information about La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation, visit