By Dick Dornan
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
Welcome back, Brian.
After a year away training at the Real So Cal Academy, Brian Arzate has come back to John Burroughs to conclude his senior soccer season. The six-foot, 160 pound defensive midfielder feels content with his decision to play alongside his teammates rather than spend another year honing his skills for the future.
“Being able to play with my friends who I come to school with everyday was important to me,” Arzate explained. “Coming back to high school has been worth it.”
After starting every game as a freshman and sophomore for the Indians, Arzate was invited to play Academy soccer which is a high honor amongst the soccer world. He took the opportunity in 2011 and decided to skip his junior season at JBHS.
“It’s a whole different soccer experience. You get to travel and play against the best players in the nation,” Arzate said. “You are playing against players who are on your same level and that is something I looked forward too.”
While he was gone, Burroughs finished 8-3-3 in the Pacific League (second place) behind league champion, Crescenta Valley. Senior Manny Celio was also absent his junior season at JBHS as he played Academy too. Having Arzate and Celio back on the field together for this year might be the difference in finishing first and not second while dethroning Crescenta Valley, the three-time defending champ.
Returning to school and playing for Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama was another important factor for Arzate.
“When I met Coach Kodama last summer, I was like ‘wow, this is a good coach.’ I really think he can take me to the next level,” Arzate said. “I’m looking at playing at a division one or D-2 school. Anywhere here in Southern California is fine. Any opportunity out of state I would take it but I just want to play soccer. I want to pursue a business degree at a four-year school.”
Kodama, who returned to coaching in 2011 after having taken two years off, admires Arzate and how much he means to the team.
“He’s an outstanding young man. You don’t come across very many individuals at this age that has the maturity level he does. What makes him really special is that he cares for his teammates,” said Kodama, who is in his 24th year as coach at Burroughs. “That’s very helpful to have guy like that. It’s like having a coach on the field.
“When Brian plays, he has a lot of passion on the field which carries over to his teammates. He leads by
example. First one here, last one off the field. Always works hard. He never takes a day off. He is a really good influence on the younger players.”
Burroughs is currently 2-1 in league and 5-4-2 overall. Arzate, 17, enjoys his role as captain and facilitator on the field.
“It means a lot to be captain. It’s a big responsibility. You have to lead by example being a senior and as a captain,” Arzate said. “My job is both playing defense and offense. That’s a hard job but I embrace it. I enjoy it. I have to hold the midfield and win the ball back. It’s just playmaking and getting the ball to our forwards and midfielders.”
“He’s at his best when he plays simple,” added Kodama. “He wins the ball, distributes, finds the guys and sets a good rhythm for the team. He’s the general for our team. He sets the pace and decides the tempo of the game.”
Whether playing at the Academy or for Burroughs, Arzate values the game of soccer with respect and pride. He understands the value of his senior season and what could possibly lie ahead.
“Everything I learned at the Academy from the coaches and players I bring it back here and try to share with my teammates and coaches and make the best out of it,” Arzate said. “We are beginning to play better and we have that chemistry where we could go somewhere at the end of the season. I think we have the potential of being that team.”
Spoken like a true captain.