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Oswego East Student Athlete of the Week: Manuel Magana

Nov 11, 2016 01:07PM ● Published by Zac Sadek

The OEHS boys’ soccer team reached numerous milestones this season.  

They were able to capture the conference championship with only 1 conference loss, beat crosstown rival Oswego 2-0, won their 100th game in program history, and made it to a regional championship before falling to Waubonsie Valley in overtime.  

One of the many catalysts for their success was junior forward Manuel Magana, who is this week’s Oswego East student athlete of the week.

Manuel's successes on the field and in the classroom have been the product of overcoming numerous obstacles and challenges that came before him.  Soccer has always been a constant in Manuel's life.  He began playing at age 6, and since that time he has never really stopped.  

Besides his commitment to his teammates here at Oswego East, he has also spent time playing indoor and outdoor for Team Chicago.  When asked what Manuel enjoys doing in his spare time from yearlong organized soccer, he replied, “Playing pick-up soccer with my friends.”

Obviously passionate about the game, Manuel found himself facing a few hurdles during his first year at Oswego East.  Born in Mexico, he came to OE with limited English.  

Manuel's Algebra II teacher, Rebecca Killam, has worked with Manuel since he arrived, and has witnessed his growth.  

“He has grown leaps and bounds in both his English proficiency, as well as his drive in academics,” says Killam.  She goes on to add, “ Manuel is a great role model to other transfer students looking to be involved in Oswego East.  He is an awesome student to have in class, and is quick to work together with anyone.”

As with most sports, the game is transferable across language and cultural barriers.  As the most watched sport in the world, soccer provided Manuel an opportunity to ingratiate himself into all things OE, and be an active member of the community.  

Despite only being a junior, he is already 8th all-time in the program with 54 points, 8th all-time in goals with 18, and 5th all-time in assists with 18.

Manuel’s growth as a player is evident in his statistics.  As a sophomore, Manuel admitted he was more concerned with scoring than facilitating to his teammates.  Head coach Steve Szymanski and his staff understood that if they were going to be successful, Manuel needed to be encouraged to help set up his teammates more often.  

“At the beginning of the season he was frustrated that he wasn’t scoring,” says Szymanski.  He continues by adding, “As coaches we got on him pretty hard and told him for our team to be better you need to become a better distributer.”

Not only did Manuel rise to the challenge, but he did so in record numbers.  Manuel’s 17 assists this season broke the school record, which was set by 4 year UIC starter Jorge Alverez.  What makes this feat even more exceptional is, as a sophomore, he only had 1 assist for the entire year. 

In addition to his 17 assists, he scored 10 goals and led the team in overall points.  His personal statistics earned him all-conference and all-sectional honors.

As far as his future, his goals include attending college and continuing to pursue his passion of soccer.  Hopefully soccer can provide financial assistance to Manuel, as Szymanski believes, 

“Mano can definitely play at the next level.  He is highly skilled and a great player.”  Manuel’s aunt, Maria Noriega, also believes Manuel can continue his dream, saying, “[Soccer] is his passion and love.  He is very dedicated to it and really wants to make it to the next level.”

Although quiet in his demeanor, Manuel has worked tirelessly to improve himself, and has taken an unselfish role as the team’s offensive facilitator.  With one year remaining at East, the sky is the limit for this bright junior.  

When asked what advice Manuel would give to incoming freshman, he replied, “Take school seriously because it is really important.”  

We look forward to Manuel’s continued chase of OE’s record book, and to build on the many successes of the Wolves soccer program this season.
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