Soccer captain Cesar Cornejo knows what it takes to be a leader


Andrea Saldana

Cesar Cornejo taking a breather while playing against Cañada College’s team at De Anza’s soccer field on Nov. 4.

Sabrina Jiang

Twenty-year-old kinesiology major, Cesar Cornejo is one of the captains on De Anza College’s men’s soccer team. 

Cornejo showcases his leadership skills on and off the field, constantly pushing his team to be better. This season is Cornejo’s first time as a captain on a college soccer team, but he shows his confidence in the upcoming games.

Cesar Cornejo keeps an eye out for the ball while playing against Cañada College’s soccer team at De Anza’s soccer field on Nov. 4. (Andrea Saldana)

De Anza’s men’s soccer team lost 2-1 in a match against Foothill College. Cornejo felt frustrated by the loss, saying it was not the result his team wanted, but he admired his team’s fighting effort on Nov. 8.

“I think I did great but since we lost and I am the captain, I feel I should do a lot more,” Cornejo said. “I should do something that helps the team a lot more, like raise intensity or something like that.”

Cornejo said he will not allow this loss to affect him or the team because he knows that playoff games are around the corner, meaning the team needs to focus on training for the time being.

“We are still going to practice and prepare for our game,” Cornejo said. “It’s going to be a tough game, so we need to move on to the next.”

Cornejo has been playing soccer since he was 4 years old, making it his 16th year with the sport. He attributes his continuous passion for the game to his parents.

“My dad played soccer when he was young,” Cornejo said. “Ever since I was 4 years old, he put a ball on my feet, and I just enjoyed everything to be honest.”

His determination to pursue soccer came from his long term involvement and love for the sport.

 “My passion for pushing myself harder every day is for my parents,” Cornejo said. “I am doing everything I can to get a scholarship to help my parents pay as little money as possible. I have had the same goal since I was in high school, and seeing me get closer and closer to my goals makes me proud, but most importantly, my parents are proud of me.”

Cornejo is working towards a degree in kinesiology. He wants to be able to work in sports science so that he can still be connected to the sport and use his experience to help others, even if he is not playing himself.

Mark “Rusty” Johnson, the head coach of the De Anza men’s soccer team, says that Cornejo is a hard player and a responsible captain.

“Cesar is in a very important position in the team,” Johnson said. “As a captain, he can never cut corners or do things at a less intensity compared with the rest of the team. You can never find Cesar in a situation where other guys are working harder than him.”

This is Cornejo’s last year playing with De Anza, and he is currently considering transferring to South Dakota Wesleyan University or San Jose State University for 2024 fall admission.

Cesar Cornejo helping run practice on De Anza’s soccer field on Nov. 2. (Andrea Saldana)

Being a captain on a team requires the individual to be strong and organized. Cornejo uses these characteristics to improve not only his performance, but the team’s performance as well.   

“As far as on the field, he is really intelligent on both attack and defense compared with others who may not be that balanced in both,” Johnson said. “Cesar is a very useful and hardworking player, and we like to have him on the field.”

According to the coaches, being a captain of a college soccer team is not easy, but Cesar’s hard work gets recognized on and off the field. Roheet Sen, the assistant coach of the De Anza men’s soccer team, pointed out Cornejo’s hard work, contribution and respect for his team and coaches.

“Cesar is a very hard worker and an outstanding player and leader. He respects all his teammates and coaches.” Sen said. “He is able to be very competitive and vital on the court. He is a quiet player but you can always see him do a good job.”

Nolan Grieve, 20, kinesiology major, is another captain of the De Anza team alongside Cornejo. Grieve says Cornejo’s hard work pushes other players in the team to follow him and train harder. 

“Cesar is a good example of a leader. He is someone you feel confident with because you can depend on him,” Grieve said. “His personality blends really well with the team and how we like to play soccer. He is a hard worker and encourages everyone else to work hard also.”