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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Athlete of the Week: Vala Saghafi

Jasmine McIntosh
On top of Vala Saghafi’s athletics, he takes his academic life just as seriously. “I make sure I get all my work done before I can play,” he said.

Freshman Vala Saghafi is a starter on the La Salle varsity soccer team, and has been playing soccer since “as long as I could walk,” he said.

“I really like soccer just because the minute I step on the field, I’m always locked in,” he said. “I’m always trying my hardest. It’s not just a game for me, it’s more than that.”

Saghafi said that his dad is the biggest role model in his life and has been his biggest coach and helped him get through everything. However, Saghafi said that he has also had a great experience with the varsity coaches here at La Salle.

“I think [Coach Monty Hawkins is] one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Saghafi said. “He’s a really straight up coach, and I think our first half in our games are always bad, but his halftime team talks always motivate us to be better in the second half.”

His other coaches, Coach David Leslie and Coach Danny Mwanga, are also great motivators.

“I think Coach Dave makes us always stay on our feet, and Coach Danny, he’s very good at one-on-one and makes us tactically win games.”

Not only does Saghafi have a close relationship with his coaches, he also has a relationship with his team and says they push him to his limits.

“I think they’re just a very inclusive community, which is one of the core principles,” he said. “I just think it’s really great.”

Saghafi also wants to play professionally. He says he is on the right track and could get there with hard work and dedication. 

Although Saghafi wants to go pro, he has left the Timbers training program to come play here at La Salle.

“I definitely see myself playing pro. I used to play for Timbers Academy. So, I was already on the pathway to pro,” he said. “I think high school and college is a great way to get there, and I want to be in the MLS draft and hopefully go to Europe one day.”

Saghafi has overcome some challenges to get to where he is today, and he said that his parents have helped push him to be the best that he could be.

“When I was playing for Timbers Academy, the first five league games I did not start. And I had a talk with my dad and he told me, ‘you’re either going to be a bench player for the whole season, or you’re going to go train by yourself and pick it up,’” Saghafi said.

“So I listened to my dad, and I started doing training on my off days and days where we didn’t have team training, and eventually I got to be a full time starter and I ended up the season with the most goals on the team,” he said.

Now playing for La Salle, Saghafi has goals for his first season with the team. 

“My main goal for this year for La Salle is to win state, and I want to make first team all state or second team all state,” he said. “I think that’d be really cool as a freshman.”

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