Soccer St. Anthony

FEATURE: Tatiana Fernandez A Rare Talent For St. Anthony Girls’ Soccer

Tatiana Fernandez is the type of soccer player every coach dreams of having on their team. Not only is she incredibly talented, she also leads from the front with a humble attitude.

For example, whenever there are competitions during practice and the losers have to run as punishment, Fernandez will run with the losers even if she led her side to victory.

“I’ve always done it since I was young and everybody always asks me why I do it,” Fernandez said. “If you want to be the best you have to do the most.”

That dedication and hard-working attitude has permeated throughout her life, and Fernandez is well prepared to succeed on and off the field. She also had a 4.5 GPA and wants to major in forensic science in college.

“Not only is she amazing with her skills and ability to play wherever on the field with a positive attitude and humbleness,” St. Anthony coach Brett Minter said. “She’s so calm and mellow with the other girls. She doesn’t get mad or angry or make herself feel like she’s better than everybody else. She wants to hang out, be a goofball and have fun.”

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Fernandez grew up in Long Beach and followed her older brothers Jesus and Cristian’s footsteps from youth sports to St. Anthony. She played organized flag football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, track and soccer before dedicating more of her life to club soccer because of her natural skill.

Fernandez currently plays for Beach FC where she’s won multiple State and Surf Cup championships. That choice to play club soccer over other sports she enjoyed was difficult for her, but the freedom within the sport was a huge draw.

“There’s so many more creative things you can do and I think that’s what appealed to me the most,” Fernandez said. “I love being creative with the ball and having fun with the game. I feel like you can’t really do that in other sports, just the skill and cool things. I love to be different and do things you don’t really see as often in the game.”

Despite not watching a lot of soccer, Fernandez quickly picked those skill moves from her coaches at practice and YouTube clips online.

“They would do it once, I would watch them and then I would do it,” Fernandez said. “Even if I messed up I would continue to do it because that’s the way I learned. I do it through trial and error.”

Her father, Jesus, and older brothers all went to St. Anthony so Fernandez never really had a choice as to where she went to high school, but being a Saint allowed her to play multiple sports. She’s been on the softball, basketball, track and cross country squads.

“It was difficult but communication was key,” she said of playing multiple sports. “I told them prior to joining I’d have to miss things because of club soccer and they mostly understood.”

“When most girls may take advantage and go home if they don’t have cross country practice or something, she comes to a soccer workout and apologizes for being late,” Minter said. “She’s amazing.”

Minter added that she is one of the best soccer players he’s ever seen in over 25 years of coaching.
Her elite club soccer performances have turned the heads of some small college coaches, but Fernandez wants to make sure she can also study forensic science, so schools like Illinois Tech are towards the top of her list.

One might assume that having such lofty goals and other priorities would make Fernandez jaded about playing soccer at St. Anthony where they literally don’t have a home field this season. But like Minter said, Fernandez is different.

“I just love this team,” she said. “The girls are so fun to be around and play with. Even if we lose it’s still fun because of the people I’m playing with and how much joy they bring to me.”

GET TO KNOW “TATI”

Question: What is your favorite food?
Answer: I love French Toast, especially the ones from Trader Joes. They’re amazing. I eat them every day.

Q: What is your least favorite food?
A: I hate seaweed. You know the dry ones they have in containers? In elementary school we used to do strange food combinations and I had strawberries and my friend had seaweed. We combined the two, I ate it, and it was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had. I’ve never eaten seaweed again.

Q: But strawberries are okay?
A: Yeah, strawberries are still good though.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
A: I have very basic music taste. I just listen to popular music.

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A: When I was in 8th grade I thought it was a free dress day. It was not. Everyone else was in uniform. It was pretty embarrassing.

Q: Do you have any interests beyond sports and school?
A: I love watching the CW Network. Shows like The Flash, Green Arrow, DC Legends of Tomorrow… I love reading comics.

Q: So you’re DC over Marvel?
A: Yeah. I just like it so much more. Superman and Batman… I feel like there’s so much more to the characters. But they do have better movies. I hate to admit it, but they do. It’s kind of a family thing. We all deep down like DC more.

Q: Who is your favorite character?
A: The Flash, because he’s a forensic scientist.

Q: How did you get into comics?
A: My dad used to collect a bunch and there’s a full file cabinet in the garage. It was more the pictures that drew me in when I was younger. But as I got into it and started watching the TV shows it was more about how they were good people.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
http://The562.org