Former MP United Football Club player Richard Steele has brought his A game in California as he was recognized as one of the outstanding members of his high school squad.
Santa Ynez Valley High School named Steele the Best Offensive Player of the Pirates’ Junior Varsity Team for the 2019-2020 season. The striker and midfielder led the Pirates in goals scored after recording five.
The 16-year-old student-athlete is honored with the distinction, but cherished more the sentimental value of his award.
“This latest achievement meant a lot to me because moving away from Saipan has been a little tough and challenging, but I would always resort back to sports, and whenever I would play I would always feel like I’m back at home. It feels good to know that I’m doing well in a sport that I love to play,” said Steele, who left the island summer of last year.
Before moving to California, the former Mt. Carmel School student was able to compete for MP United in the 2019 NMIFA Spring Youth League and took the Golden Boot award in the boys U15 division after firing 23 goals, including a single game-high seven.
Steele credited MP United and his former coaches and teammates for his significant improvements through the years and for preparing him to adjust to a new playing environment.
“Playing on MPU helped me excel in California because I use multiple methods and strategies that I learned from my MPU coaches Johann Noetzel, Sunjoon Tenorio, Oliver Lee, and Chris Aninzo. I was able to use everything they taught me to help me succeed in different environments. I was also very fortunate to have outstanding teammates like Jeremiah Diaz, Rintaro Miyawaki, and Rinto Takahashi, who pushed me to my limits to help me perform at a higher level,” Steele said.
Tenorio acknowledged Steele as one of the key players on the MP United U15 squad he and Lee coached last year so learning that the former Saipan resident is still standing out with his new squad does not surprise the former at all.
“He is a very coachable player. I love coaching him because of his attitude and work ethic. He would always listen to my advice as well, and I am not surprised with his achievements in California,” Tenorio said.
Before suiting up for the Pirates, Steele also played for the Kickers Soccer Club of Los Olivos, also in California, and lived up to expectations as he led the group’s U16 team in goals scored with 12.
Steele is on the Santa Ynez’s varsity tennis team, too and recorded three victories (playing No. 1 in singles) in their title conquest in the California Boys Tennis Classic Division 6 in Fresno last March.
The former member of the CNMI Junior Tennis Team, despite his busy schedule playing two sports, is still on top of his studies, as he made it to National Honor Society after the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year.