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Meet Chris Wondolowski – If You Are Looking For A Great Role Model … You Need Not Look Beyond The Great “WONDO”

Wondolowski(3)I had the great pleasure the other day of meeting and talking with Chris Wondolowski, the San Jose Earthquakes and MLS (Major League Soccer) Striker and Star Player.

I have met many “famous” people / star athletes before. But this was different. He was as interested and excited about talking with me, as I was with him. I complimented him on ‘this’ or ‘that’ and he would say “Thank you very much. I really appreciate it” – and it was genuine. It was a breath of fresh air and I appreciated that.

He had just completed an arduous workout session – and he was being so gracious to stand with me and spend this time conversing with me. We talked about a number of things, and then in particular, we talked about his heroes. Did he or does he have heroes, people who have inspired him to this very day? Oh, yes, many, he said. Former teachers, and especially his Dad, his coaches, fellow players he has played with and plays with.

The accomplishments he was proud of were all team oriented and he always wanted to talk about the team. Then he also included in the conversation his excitement for the new stadium. We both would glance just a 100 yards away from the practice field where we were standing … admiring as if we could get a glimpse of the joy around the corner. But none of the talk was a focus on him, it was him that also included his teammates, the gratitude and sure the hope of what was to come. It was different. He was different.

Wondo’s father played soccer at Cal Berkeley, so soccer was in Chris’s blood since early childhood. One of his brothers, Stephen, also played soccer and played professionally for the Houston Dynamo. He now is a development soccer coach in the Earthquakes youth organization.

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Wondo was born in the East Bay and played soccer at De La Salle High School in Orinda. De La Salle has been famous all these years for its football, its Football Hall of Fame Coach, Bob Ladouceur, and its great football winning tradition. Coach Ladouceur was one of the winningest coaches in high school football history – or any sports history for that matter. He was / he is a legend in his own right. I asked Wondo if he was an inspiration and hero of his?

“His sport was football and mine was soccer, and yes, he was a hero of mine. I had him as a teacher for my Religion class and there we got to know each other. He had always been an inspiration to me (in and out of the classroom) and always will be.” (I had heard that about Coach Ladouceur from others, too – it’s special – and so I was and am not at all surprised).

After graduating from De La Salle, Wondo went on to play college soccer at Chico State, not known as a national soccer power house. Upon graduating from Chico State, Wondo was drafted “last” by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2005. He was a long shot to make the team.

This is where you need to realize the spirit and importance of this true legendary story. Wondo was always told he wasn’t good enough and that he should not expect to make this team or that. Time after time, Wondo would hear that … and time after time, Wondo proved to those naysayers, that they should expect the unexpected. Every time he has defied all the odds and has excelled.

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There were always obstacles … and always his positive attitude. Such negativity would not prevent him from giving and doing his best. He was not expected to make the Earthquakes … and now he is their star and best scorer. He is also the MLS top scorer of the past three years and was two years ago the league’s MVP. Amazingly, he also leads US scorers in International team competition. And, now, he has done it again … where he again has defied the odds … Wondo was just selected to the 2014 US World Cup Team going to Brazil! Landon Donovan, considered the greatest US soccer player ever, did not make the team. Wondo did.

Wondo is a great athlete and team player. He is a great Earthquake and international soccer star. And he is also a great and humble person doing the best he can … and always overachieving. He is truly a great American story, a real hero and positive role model. This great story continues … If you root for any player and any team, please include Wondo – he’s playing for us all.

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