Following a recent 2-0 loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa boys’ soccer goalkeeper Evan Mendez calmly and politely talked with the referees about a penalty kick that resulted in the final goal of the game.
The respectful give and take might have been uncommon for a competitive 17-year-old who had just suffered a tough loss. But Mendez is not your ordinary high school senior.
While a lot of his peers have yet to choose a college, let alone think about a major or career, Mendez is more than ready for the next step.
Second in his class, Mendez will be attending Harvard University next fall as he pursues a career in government or law.
“I got interested in law when I started watching TV shows like ‘Law and Order,’ ” he said. “Not necessarily the police work and the shooting and all that, but the law process, how the system works.”
That interest led to his participation in a number of events related to the judicial and legislative systems.
“I took part in [Saratoga County Bar Association] Mock Trial,” Mendez said. “I loved the debate, loved learning about the process.”
Mendez also served as a judge in Saratoga County Youth Court, and attended the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.
He also has participated in a host of leadership activities in his hometown, including Sunday school.
Focusing on a handful of schools with strong academics, Mendez visited the campuses of Princeton and Georgetown, but quickly decided he’d be most at home — both for academics and athletics — in Boston.
“They’re all among the best schools in the country for studying government and politics, but I really fell in love with Harvard and the Boston environment,” Mendez said. “Boston definitely has that big city feeling, but you also see a lot of kids your age. It’s a great college town. I think it’s more mellow than New York or Los Angeles.”
Harvard also offered the opportunity to study international and global affairs. Another draw was the Harvard Law School.
“I definitely want to study at the Kennedy School at Harvard, but I might decide to change and go into a different field, like law,” Mendez said.
Mendez helped a senior-heavy Ballston Spa team reach the Class AA sectional championship game last fall. After battling Saratoga Springs to a 1-1 tie through 100 minutes, the Scotties came up short in the penalty kick tiebreaker.
“That was tough,” said Mendez. “But I felt we left it all on the field. The year before, we won our first Class AA sectional game, so getting to the final the next year was a major accomplishment.”
And not bad for someone who gave up baseball after eighth grade to concentrate on soccer.
“He was thrown into goal with his club team with no experience or knowledge of the goalkeeper position,” said Ballston Spa varsity coach Garry Preece. “He totally winged it.
“He’s had a huge impact on the team’s success. Evan has a tremendous work ethic, and he continues to improve.”
The team’s makeup is drastically different this year, with Mendez taking on added responsibilities.
“We knew it would be much more challenging this season,” said Mendez, who serves as a captain. “We have a completely new defense, and we have some sophomores starting. I’m trying to instill in them some sense of maturity. When you’re younger, you don’t treat each game equally, I understand that.
“Obviously, keeping the ball out of the net is priority No. 1 for me. I really see my role on the team as trying to hold and organize the defense together.”
The Evan Mendez file
SCHOOL: Ballston Spa.
PARENTS: Sergio and Kerry Mendez.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS/HONORS: Ranked second in class of 339 with a 98.12 average. Was on principal’s list every consecutive quarter from sixth grade through end of first quarter 2011. Attended Junior National Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. Active in Ballston Area Recreation Center (volunteer track coach); Ballston Center ARP Church (Sunday school teacher); The Root Cellar (children’s area assistant); Saratoga County Youth Court (judge); Saratoga County Bar Association Mock Trial (prosecutor and defense counsel). Committed to Harvard University, plans to study liberal arts, leading to an international and global affairs concentration at the Harvard Kennedy School and a law degree at Harvard Law School. Suburban Council first-team soccer all-star (goalkeeper) 2010. Helped Ballston Spa to Class AA soccer co-championship 2010.
favorite courseS: Advanced-Placement Government Politics, Advanced-Placement English.
favorite FOOD: Cheeseburgers.
favorite team: Manchester United
favorite athlete: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
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Categories: High School Sports