Athlete of the Week: Renae Cuellar
Arizona Wildcat soccer forward Renae Cuellar scored two goals in the first half of Arizona's 2-1 victory over Old Dominion University on Sunday. The Arizona Daily Wildcat's Vincent Balistreri talked with the sophomore about her play over the weekend, her confidence on the field and her strategy for celebrating a scored goal.
Daily Wildcat: So you had two goals and the team got its first win, how satisfying is it to play well and also have team success?
Cuellar: Soccer is a team sport. Without my team I wouldn't be able to do it. All the goals that I produce come from everyone's effort; obviously I'm the one that's recognized for the goals, but at the same time it's a great feeling because I'm really hard on myself and I love to produce. Being able to put both of them (the goals) away and setting the tone for my team was satisfying because I'm a leader on the team.
DW: Coach even told me you were disappointed that you didn't get the hat trick.
RC: Yeah, I was pretty sad because I was so close and they're really hard to get at the college level. At the end of the game, coach was like, ""Pass the ball to the corners,"" and I'm like, ""But there are five minutes left, can I try to score one more?"" Coach Tobias knew I wanted another one.
DW: So you have three goals thus far in the season. You're two away from equaling last year's total of five. Do you think you'll pass that mark this year?
RC: Yeah, I think as a sophomore, I think this year is my year. My freshman year I was just trying to get my feet wet. Hopefully this weekend I'll be breaking that easily in the first game. Getting to the 20s is definitely what I want to do.
DW: You seem pretty confident. I was reading last year's media guide and coach Tobias was quoted as saying that you told him you would shatter a lot of school records, is that true?
RC: That was my junior year in high school that I said I would break all the school records. I've always been a pretty confident player on the field, ever since I've been six I've always worked hard at soccer. I think every player controls their abilities with the work you put in.
DW: Where did that confidence come from?
RC: I think it came from my parents and grandparents always (telling) me whatever I (wanted) to do I (could) do it. Especially my dad has always told me a lot people have god-given talents, now are you going to do something with it or are you going to let it go to waste? I've never wanted to let it go to waste.
DW: What is something that would shock people about Renae?
RC: (Laughs) Let's see, let's tell my secrets … You see a lot of athletes that like to be known as the football player or whatever, I want to be known as the soccer player but there is a different side of me. I'm not just the little confident soccer player.
DW: (laughs) Oh my fault, I didn't mean to call you the confident little soccer player.
RC: (laughs) No, I do take it as a compliment.
DW: Is there a downside to being overly confident? It's good to be confident but does it rub people the wrong way?
RC: I've dealt with that since I've played soccer, but … I think there is a downside to it, but I think if you're doing good there will always (be) people who are jealous and want to see you fall, but to me that's just motivation.
DW: Can you do that little flip throw-in your teammate (Samantha Drees) does when she throws the ball in?
RC: I can't even do a cartwheel if my life depended on it, so no I cannot (laughs).
DW: Being from Southern California, is it hard to prepare for the season in the Tucson heat?
RC: Actually, I've always loved to play in the heat because I don't like snow or rain and I'm anti-cold. When I came to Arizona I knew what I was getting myself into.
DW: Since you're a big-time goal scorer, do you have a dance or celebration you do after your goals?
RC: In club soccer I always wanted to wear the Supergirl shirt and pull my shirt up … I technically can't do that anymore. I always do this when I score (she pumps both of her fists) and when I get to midfield I point to my family.
DW: So if you score a goal on Friday I should expect to see this?
RC: Yeah, I always do the same thing, I don't know why.
DW: What other sports do you watch besides soccer?
RC: I like football, kickboxing and boxing.
DW: Did you go to the football game on Saturday?
RC: No, we were at the ASU tournament over the weekend but I do go to all the football games, I love watching the football team.
DW: Who's your favorite player to watch on the football team?
RC: Let's see. My favorite player to watch (laughs) … That would have to be the offensive lineman #74 Mike Diaz, my favorite player of all time. He's been my favorite player since I got here last year. (Laughs)
DW: That must be your boyfriend?
RC: (Laughs) Yes it is … If I hadn't said (that) there would have been some problems.