Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Former Falcons soccer star signs with four-year university

Courtesy of Itzel Ballesteros
All-American soccer player, Itzel Ballesteros holds up her letter of intent to Lincoln Memorial University. The former Falcon will hang her cleats in Tennessee for two years.

A first team All-American soccer player for Cerritos College during the 2017-18 season, Itzel Ballesteros signed her National Letter of Intent on April 16 with Lincoln Memorial University, located in Tennessee.

Ballesteros will be receiving a full-ride scholarship to the NCAA Division 2 school, to which she said she is “grateful.”

The scholarship will cover the entire cost of tuition, plus dorm and meals for two years and she noted that her scholarship will continue to cover tuition until she attains her bachelors degree.

A native of Huntington Park, CA, Ballesteros has been playing soccer since she was just three-years-old

The 5-foot-4 forward played in 47 career games (42 starts) for the Falcons throughout two seasons.

Ballesteros started 22 games for the 2016-17 Falcons’ state championship team, helping them win their fifth state title in a row in just her rookie season.

TM Jah-Tosh Baruti
Itzel Ballesteros dribbles the ball down the field in a soccer match. She played for the Falcons from 2016-18, Ballesteros signed with Lincoln Memorial University on April 16.

During the 2016-17 season she scored 22 goals, to go along with 15 assists.

She was crowned Offensive Player of the Year in the South Coast Conference-South Division as a freshman.

Ballesteros was also named to the second team All-West Region, All-Southern Region during her first year.

She will be reunited with her Falcon teammate Maria Hernandez, she commented on the impact Hernandez had on her signing, “I think we both wanted to receive a good offer and once we realized we had achieved that from the same school, going together was a plus.”

Ballesteros talked about Hernandez signing with the same school, she said, “She has been my best friend since I got here to Cerritos and I am so happy that I get to experience this with her.

“We work really good together on the field and just having a piece of home with me makes it exciting.”

Hernandez was named All-Southern Region and she was a two-time first team All-South Coast Conference selection

In her second year, Ballesteros lead her team to another postseason berth, while looking to secure a sixth straight title to catapult the team further into rarefied air.

In her final game of her career as a Falcon, Ballesteros played in the Elite Eight against San Bernardino College, where the defending champs lost 1-0 on the road.

Ballesteros summed up her career being a Falcon athlete as her best soccer experience so far.

“I grew so much as a player and a person. I was able to learn many different ways of how to play the game from the unique talent we had on the team. I think it prepared me very well and worked as a stepping stone to further my soccer career,” she elaborated.

Ballesteros received offers mostly from out of state colleges, her offers included: Ottawa University (Arizona), York College (New York), Eastern Oregon, Western Oregon and several other programs. Most offered to pay her tuition.

Ultimately, she chose LMU, citing her parents as her “biggest influence” in her decision. “They always reminded me that all these years of hard work were paying off and a full ride was something I couldn’t reject.”

She said her coach, Ruben Gonzalez, “played a huge role” in her decision. “He was always looking out for me and we both explored the best possible decision. I thank all the coaching staff for always believing in me and opening doors for me.”

For Ballesteros this will be her first time away from her family for an extended period of time.

She talked about being away from family for two years, “The biggest challenge of playing will be be not having my support system present with me.

“My parents and sisters have never missed a game, so I think having to adjust to being alone will be a bit difficult for me.”

Ballesteros ended with what she hopes to get out of this program, she said, “I have always been very shy and dependent on my parents so I hope this makes me grow as an individual and prepares me for what life has to offer.”

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About the Contributor
Jah-Tosh Baruti
Jah-Tosh Baruti, Staff Writer
Jah-Tosh Baruti is author of the sports column titled Shmackem. Previously he was sports editor for Talon Marks. Baruti also took home an award for his sports writing at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ state conference in 2018.
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Former Falcons soccer star signs with four-year university