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Area boys, Hambrick students, claim Soccer State Championship in Corpus Christi.

Top Row (Left to right): Coach Ruben Mares, Virente Vasquez, Edgar Monroy, Irvin Campos, Juan Ruiz, Edgar Campos, Anthony Gonzales, Edwin Sanchez, Diego Coranado. Bottom Row (left to right) Juan Colmenaro, Edwin Lemus, Jose Sanez, Julio Martinez, Edgar Olivares, I-lever Martinez, Abelardo Olivares, Jose Garcia. (not pictured: Assistanct Coach Jose Sanez and Jose Dominguez

Wise coaches will always tell their players, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” For the Atlas soccer team, which includes 12 of 17 players from Hambrick Middle School, you can’t finish any higher than state champions in Texas. “I’m extremely proud of the boys,” Said Coach and Hambrick Assistant Principal Ruben Mares. With a top-notch performance at the South Texas Youth Soccer Association’s state tournament in Corpus Christi, the South Texas cup belongs to the Atlas soccer team.

The team finished the regular season 5-1-2.
They finished second at the Eastern district tournament here in the Houston area. That was enough to qualify for the state tournament. “The most challenging part of this run was raising enough money for the boys to make the trip to Corpus.” Exclaimed Mares. Thanks to the generosity of Fiesta Grocery and Hambrick students and faculty, the team raised the $1,700 to cover travel and lodging expenses. Then the boys could focus on the game.

Things didn’t look good for the Atlas in game one of the state tournament. “That was the biggest surprise.” Mares reflected. “We were down 3 to 1 in the first half but in the second half the Atlas team members came together and recovered to tie the game. This was enough to catapult them into a position to play for the championship.

Ironically, the Atlas had to defeat its familiar Eastern District foe, the Conroe Castros to claim the cup. It was a team that they had lost to 4 to 1 in the Eastern district tournament. But this time, the Atlas was determined not to let history repeat itself. With systematic teamwork and precision kicking, the Atlas began functioning with the efficiency of a Swiss watch. The defense was stellar, frustrating the boys from Conroe with every block and pinpoint passing. When the time had expired all they had to do was search their hearts and glance at the scoreboard: Atlas: 3, Conroe Castros 0.

So the team can relax, at least for a few weeks. Coach Mares says he’ll add a few new players as other boys move on. Then it’s back to the summer practice fields as they prepare for a new season in September. For a team that’s been together less than a year, it was a fine end to an inaugural season. Mares said he wanted to make special note of the parental support. “It was great,” he said. As always when coaching a group of young men in a sport like soccer, you have to have great parent help. All of these young champions are looking forward to next season. For those who shared the joy of winning the cup, lessons of teamwork, responsibility and grace in victory are just a few of the things they can plant inside their hearts while donning the medals around their necks. At Hambrick, teachers and students were extremely proud. Congratulations could be heard echoing through the hallways as the players returned to class from their memorable trip down the coast. If all goes well, you’ll be hearing about these boys and their future conquests through high school and college.