Author shares experience with area students

Photo submitted

By Zoie Nelson
Times-News correspondent
teens20@timesnews.com

   As a first-generation American, Paul Cuadros always wanted to make a difference and be a voice for those who didn’t have one.
Cuadros was covering a story on the growing Latino population in Chatham County for Times magazine but still found himself with nothing to do.
“I love it here now but back then I was bored out of my mind,” he said during a visit to Williams High School on Nov. 20 to talk about his book, “A Home on the Field.”
    To fill up his free time, Cuadros began to coach a soccer team in Siler City that was made up of all Latino boys either from Mexico or Latin America. Cuadros was confident in his team but soon found himself faced with a different challenge — the fans.
“There were times when we won and the other team’s fans would yell at us.” he explained. “All I could do was tell the boys to keep walking.”
Cuadros coached the rest of the season until a group of boys approached him with another coaching opportunity — this time for the local high school. Jordan-Matthews was a school that only supported sports such as basketball or football. With the help of the boys, Cuadros began to get the soccer program started.
“We got the money, the uniforms, and even the team together, all we needed was for administration to say yes,” he said.
But even with everything in line, the administration decided against it. Cuadros didn’t let the temporary setback phase the team and still fought for the program.
“We ended up going to a town hall meeting to talk to the community about it,” he said. “I think that’s when they realized we weren’t giving up.”
In 2002 the Jordan-Matthews Jets soccer team was created, but there were still many challenges.
“When we played at other schools their fans would yell at us and throw things at us,” Cuadros said. Even with those issues, the Jets proved themselves. In 2004, they became the first predominately Latino State Champions. The first undocumented State MVP also came from the Jets.
Cuadros’ book, “A Home on the Field,” sold more than a million copies in the first week of its release and has even caught the eye of Jennifer Lopez. She co-produced a six part documentary series about the Jets called “Los Jets.”
For more information on “A Home on the Field,” visit your local library or Barnes & Noble ($11).

 Zoie Nelson is a junior at Williams High School and a Teens & Twenties writer.

 

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