Fuego players making impact in the community

FRESNO, Calif.

"The fact of just coaching, I just want to give back to the community, give back to the kids," said Ochoa. "Growing up through this program I've actually wanted to do that even more. That's what made me sign on. First question I was like, 'Yeah. Definitely. I want to do it.'"

Less than a decade ago, Ochoa himself was a Cal Odyssey standout. He says there's nothing better than to assume a teaching role on nights where he isn't playing.

"Growing up I had a lot of good mentors," Ochoa said. "My coach at the time was an ex-professional player as well. When I got this opportunity I was like hey you know what I want to coach these kids. I like coaching, I like kids, and especially I love soccer. That's why I'm out here."

And Ochoa isn't the only Fuego player giving back to the local soccer community. Two fields over, Fuego midfielder Nene Blanco is putting Clovis West freshman Nate Ruble through one on one drills.

"When you see a good prospect," said Blanco, "you want to work with them and you want to give them all the knowledge that I have and see if he can get the knowledge and use it to his advantage."

Ruble made the Golden Eagles varsity team as a freshman this past season. He says his work with Blanco has really paid off.

"It's actually really cool but you don't really notice it when you're training," said Ruble. "You're just getting your touches in and afterwards you realize I'm training with a professional. It's something that you don't always get to do."

"'The game has slowed down for me,' that's what he says," said Jody Ruble, Nate's father. "'Dad, the game has slowed down for me because I know what's coming and I know what needs to happen next.' And that's what Nene's given him."

But for Blanco, Ruble's success on the soccer field is just icing on the cake.

"I think he's going to go far with soccer," Blanco said. "And if it isn't in soccer, [then] in life in general. He's a good athlete and a good student."

And the Fuego players have earned their titles, of good teachers and good role models.

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