Rene Renteria Q & A: 2013 Winner of U.S. Soccer’s Disabled Athlete of the Year Award
ussoccer.com: Congratulations on being voted the 2013 U.S. Soccer Disabled Athlete of the Year
. What does an award like this mean to you?
Rene Renteria: “Oh man! I was happy and excited because of the work I put in. I couldn’t even describe it. I’m speechless.”
ussoccer.com: Who was the first person you told when you found out you won the award?
RR : “As soon as I found out, I told the person next to me – my nephew. I saw him and didn’t know who to tell I won Disabled Athlete of the Year. He didn’t believe me! He was like, ‘Let me see.’ He was happy though, told me ‘Congratulations.’”
ussoccer.com: What has helped you achieve what you’ve been able to accomplish in your career?
RR : “Honestly, it has a lot to do with the support I have. I was in the Marine Corps before the Paralympics and I got into a car accident. My life changed after that. It’s just the support that I have to keep fighting to be better. It was all good friends and family.”
ussoccer.com: You were the leading goal scorer for the U.S. Paralympic Team this year with nine goals in 10 games. What does it mean to be able to contribute that
level of offense to the team?
RR: “It means a lot. I try to lead by example. The work you put into practice is going to pay off in the game.”
ussoccer.com: What goes through your mind when you’re getting ready to compete? Do you have any superstitions or special things you do to prepare?
RR: “I just listen to music to relax so I’m not too overexcited for the game so I can keep calm and concentrate.”
ussoccer.com: You helped the U.S. Paralympic Team qualify for the 2015 IPC World Championships. What was your reaction when you found out the team qualified for
RR: “It was great knowing that’s another step closer to make it to the big dance of the Paralympic Games. It’s another stepping stone.”
ussoccer.com: What kind of preparation will you go through to get ready for the World Championships?
RR: “We have training camp in January and February. We’re supposed to play two games in February to try and get competition ready for the time the World Championships come. Individually, every tournament we do, I try to be a better player. I try to get physically and mentally stronger for the next tournament.”
ussoccer.com: What advice do you have for other athletes who are working hard to reach the level of competition you have achieved?
RR: “No matter what, keep fighting. Nothing is easy. Nothing you do that’s worth fighting for is easy.”
ussoccer.com: Any final thoughts or things you want to share?
RR : “A lot of my hard work is just setting an example for my daughter, Destiny. She’s about to be 3 [years old] in December. Being away from home and not being around her, I want to show her that I can still be something that she can admire even though I’m gone at that time.”