New face of men’s soccer


Audrey Marques

Alex Balleza, 21, kinesiology major, shooting to the goal during practice on Oct. 31 at De Anza College.

My Do, Staff Reporter

Half way through his first official season on the De Anza College men’s soccer team, center midfield Alex Balleza, 21, kinesiology major, scored nine out of the team’s 37 goals.

“I think the coaches might have seen some potential in me that I didn’t see in myself,” Belleza said. “They gave me the confidence that I needed to go out and play the position.”

Born and raised in San Jose, Balleza started playing soccer when he was about 5 years old.

“My parents told me that I as soon as I saw a ball I just started chasing it. As I grew up I realized that I liked chasing and kicking it more than anything else, so I just kept with it,” he said.

Balleza first met De Anza’s head coach Mark “Rusty” Johnson at a game when he was 13 or 14 years old. Johnson was out scouting for talents and gave Balleza his email address.

“Alex is very creative, his ability to be dangerous in front of the net has been important for us with our currently established back line, so it was pretty clear he would be useful in the midfield for us,” Johnson said.

But Balleza did not contact Johnson until many years after. He initially enrolled at CSU Chico, but found out after one year it was not a good fit.

After taking a year off to reconsider his options, he sent Johnson an email realizing he still wanted to attend college and continue playing soccer.

“I immediately discussed his involvement in the team and actually added him as a training player late in the fall season last year. I was thinking about how he might be able to add some creativity to our attacking play,” Johnson said.

Balleza said his second game with De Anza was the most memorable in his career. “I had always dreamed of playing in college since a little kid. So it felt like I’d hit a milestone in my life.”

Outside of school, Balleza works up to 35 hours a week in guest service at Target. Soccer takes up another 15 hours in his schedule, so Balleza does not get much of a social life during the season.

But, he believes soccer helps him stay balanced. “Playing keeps me healthy and helps me avoid mental stress,” Balleza said.

Coach Johnson said what stood out most about Alex as a person was his quiet confidence. “Alex is respected by his teammates because of his quality as a player and his reservation to brag or point out his own successes.”

After De Anza, Balleza hopes to build a career in kinesiology. He wants to stay close to sports while helping people suffering from injuries recover and pursue things they love.