Calling Ariel Oriarte a champion is an understatement. This 19-year-old powerhouse goalie was PacWest’s ‘Defender of the Week’ for the week Sept. 22-28 and was this past week’s ‘Sea Lion of the Week.’
“When Ariel won defender of the week; we felt like we all had won,” said freshman Dottie Rhoten, one of her teammates.
Oriarte has had her struggles; she grew up without her parents and has lived with her aunt, Molly Manner, since she was 6 years old.
“She changed my life,” Manner, said. “She makes me very proud and often leaves me wishing that I was more like her.”
Aside from not living with her parents, Oriarte was diagnosed with gastro paresis, a condition where one’s stomach muscles don’t function normally.
“I was so scared that I would have my scholarship taken from me because I could not play soccer,” said Oriarte.
After she was diagnosed, Oriarte changed schools because she was so ill she could no longer sit through a seven hour school day.
“I had to learn to accept, to deal, and to try to overcome it,” she said.
Even though she worried about her scholarship, PLNU’s head coach, Tim Hall, reassured her.
“I play for Tim Hall here, who assured me that no matter what health problem, I endured. He still wanted me to play at Loma,” said Oriarte.
Because of this, Oriarte was able to make her dream of becoming a soccer player a reality.
“She made me into a soccer mom,” said Manner.
Oriarte plans to use her skills as a way to bring glory to God.
“I am so happy that I have the opportunity to use my talent that God has blessed me with to not only play at a high level, but also spread the good news of the Gospel,” Oriarte said.
Oriarte gives it her all on the field and always brings a good attitude, said her athletic trainer, Pami Young.
“Ariel always has a smile on her face and is always excited to play.” said Young.
Off the field, Oriarte aspires to become a broadcast journalist.
“I decided I did not have the passion to become a forensic psychologist, but that I was passionate about sports, so I decided to become a sports broadcaster,” said Oriarte.
Oriarte hopes to play soccer after college, but will focus first on her career. Oriarte travels with her team to Hawaii this week.