Men’s soccer player pursues engineering dreams


Frank Sek

Sergio Reyes, team captain and mechanical engineering major, helps a student during his job as a resident assistant at the University Village.

Sergio Reyes, team captain and midfielder for the PNW men’s soccer team, said he is like the law of inertia.

“I can’t stay at rest and I don’t want to be unbalanced, so that’s why I like to absorb a variety of things, especially with my college experience,” Reyes said.

Reyes, a mechanical engineering major, is also a resident assistant for the PNW University Village, a member of the Honors College and a former PNW ambassador.

Reyes is also a College Sports Information Director of America, or CoSIDA Academic All-American, and maintains a 3.9 GPA.

“I wish my GPA was a little higher, but I am happy about this because it encourages other athletes to perform well in both athletics and academics,” Reyes said.

Originally from Tabio, Colombia, Reyes was a delivery boy, waiter and host at his father’s restaurant. He said that he had to leave this life behind in Colombia. It made it impossible for him to play the sport he loved, soccer.

“I had to forget about soccer and retire from it in Colombia, but I received an opportunity from an agency to play soccer for the University of Northwestern Ohio,” Reyes said. “The thing I love about soccer is the brotherhood you create and the teamwork. All you need is a soccer ball and all of your problems are gone.”

While in Ohio, Reyes could not pursue engineering and felt alone in a predominantly white area. He said it was tough and he wanted to quit many times.

“I was down. I did not want to play soccer. I did not know anything and got sick. I needed to change, and so I did. I started to work out, learned how to cook. I strived and improved. After that, all the aspects of my life started to improve as well,” Reyes said.

Reyes said that he learned to do things he previously was not able to do. He realized no one was going to help him. He said he stopped complaining and got to work.

After graduating with his associate degree in automotive high-performance from the University of Northwestern Ohio, Reyes still wanted to purse his dream of becoming an engineer.

With support from his parents, Reyes began the transfer process and found out about PNW.

Ryan Hayes, head coach for the men’s soccer team, invited Reyes to an open tryout. Reyes said that it was a good tryout because Hayes loved his playing style and offered him a spot.

“I fell in love with PNW because I could pursue mechanical engineering, play soccer and was close to Chicago,” Reyes said.

Reyes said he is grateful for the opportunity Hayes gave him, but also happy that Hayes let him become team captain.

“As a captain, I try to engage as much as I can. I talk to each player, I create gatherings, I talk to them when they’re down. I just try to make a team effort,” Reyes said. “I am the link between the team and coach. I have to check if everyone is OK and make both parties work.”

Tulio Riberio, friend and teammate of Reyes, said that besides being a natural leader, Reyes is also dedicated.

“I’ve seen in the last two years that we have played together how dedicated he is. Every day he would stay after practice trying to get better. He would always be on the gym even though he didn’t have to. All he wanted was to get better and better. I admire that,” Riberio said.

Riberio said that Reye’s role as team captain changed Reyes.

“I think that this responsibility changed the way that he had to think. Now he could not only think about himself, but actually he had to think about everyone on the team,” Riberio said. “I would always see him trying to bring everyone to work out. He would be the one trying to bring everyone together for a cookout. He would always be helping everyone that needed help.”

When Riberio met Reyes, he thought Reyes was friendly, talented and extroverted.

“On the first day he was already talking to everybody, like he was there for a year. I still have the same impression, but now I see that he truly is like that on a daily basis,” Riberio said.

Riberio shared that he is with Reyes daily because they are both mechanical engineers and take the same classes. He said it was natural for him and Reyes to become friends because they love math and soccer, have mutual friends and are from South America.

“I am happy to have Sergio around me. He has helped me get better in the field and out of the field as well. We are always studying together, and he is really smart. The only change now in our relationship is that instead of being a good friend and colleague, I can now call him my brother,” Riberio said.

Reyes said that his teammates and friends are everything to him and important support systems. He said, however, that his greatest motivation is his family.

“In school, my dad is definitely my main motivation. He’s perfect and just so smart. I want to do well so I can repay back all he’s done for me,” Reyes said. “In soccer, it’s my grandpa and mom. They want to me to be happy, and they know soccer does that. They always remind me to just have fun and know that I left behind everything in Columbia for soccer.”

Reyes said he wants to be a better version of himself everyday.

“I want to be better than yesterday. I want to be able to look in the mirror and say, ‘I did well,’” Reyes said. “I want to be correct in all aspects of my life. I want to do the right things when no one is watching. It was what I was taught: to live, to serve and be a good human being.”

Reyes, a sophomore, will receive his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Reyes also completed his last season for the men’s soccer team and hopes to become part of the coaching staff next year.

After graduating, Reyes wants to stay in the United States and play professional soccer. He also wants to find an engineering job to make money for his family and give them a better life.

Reyes said that life is too short and needs to be enjoyed. He said that with discipline, anything is possible.