When Justin Conyers was six and was kicking a football in the family living room, he remembers damaging the television, which landed him a $300 bill. His parents were not happy.
“They made me get the money back,” he said. “They didn’t mind me kicking the ball around the house. Just be careful where you hit it.
There was also the time he broke a vase. You must make decisions between risk and reward when a young boy falls in love with a ball at his feet. Fortunately, Conyers became more accurate when the ball was in the house.
As an 18-year-old senior, he led Moorpark High to an 11-0 record. He has a scholarship waiting for him at UC Irvine and is a leading candidate to become valedictorian with his 4.8 GPA, never having received a grade other than A for four years. at Moor Park.
All he has done in sports is play football since he was 5 years old. His father, Jeremy, loved basketball growing up but decided he was too short at 5ft 8in so he played football at Newbury Park High. He thought Justin wouldn’t be tall, so football was the sport. Still, Justin has become a giant in the family at 6 feet, 145 pounds.
A turning point for Justin came in 2014 when he was watching the World Cup on TV. It was the year Germany beat Argentina 1-0 to win the league. He watched games with friends and remembers Thomas Müller as the star player.
“For some reason this World Cup has completely changed my view of football,” he said. “It showed me the emotion, the compassion that people have. For some reason, I fell in love with the joy when people were scoring. It made me think that’s really cool. I want to continue to persevere and hope to get there one day.
Conyers has seven goals and seven assists this season. Moorpark coach Manny Galvez, who played football at Granada Hills Kennedy High and works full-time in the Los Angeles Fire Department, marvels at Conyers’ ability to anticipate the decisive moments of a match.
“Anytime you have players who are two steps ahead of the game, they will make much better decisions,” Galvez said. “He plays in attacking midfield. He’s like the team’s quarterback. He is able to complete our offensive transitions.
Conyers started at AYSO and has been playing club football since he was 7 years old. At the age of 12, Conyers scored the winning goal to send his club team, Real So Cal, to the national championship.
Last week against Camarillo, he scored the only goal of the game and showed off his decision-making prowess.
“I can see the games before they happen, the spaces open up,” he said. “I had the ball in the middle of the field and kept dribbling when no one was pressuring me. Some of my teammates were asking for the ball. I saw that the defense didn’t know whether to put pressure on me. or block them. They decided to go to my teammates. I shot it. “
One of the joys of playing for Moorpark is that several teammates have been his friends for years. In their senior year of high school, the neighborhood boys attempt to deliver a South Section Division 2 championship. Junior Jerry Ramos has proven to be a solid attacking contributor scoring 14 goals.
“It’s really great to play with them,” Conyers said.
One of his teammates, Scott Corbin, gives him a chance to give the farewell speech. He also gets all A’s on his report cards. Moorpark has eight players with GPAs of 4.0 or higher.
Conyers plans to study computer science at UC Irvine, possibly to become a software engineer. This semester, he is taking Advanced Placement Statistics, AP Macro Economics, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Government.
It’s clear that Conyers has no intention of giving up kicking a soccer ball in his bedroom, on the field or against a wall.
“Since I was young I fell in love with the ball on the foot, training and playing with my friends,” he said. “It’s the only sport I really enjoy playing.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.