Soccer has long been considered a global pastime. From England, to Russia, to Mexico, to here in the United States and countless countries between, people gaze upon the wonderment of soccer from the rousing celebration of a score, to the elation of the hat trick and, on some unfortunate occasions, the heartbreak of a crushing defeat. Danielle Fuentes, a freshman-midfielder for UMBC, is no stranger to any of these emotions, as soccer has been apart of her life since she was young girl.
Born and raised in Rockville, MD, Fuentes, who is known as Danni to most of her peers, spent her life growing up without a father figure and looked to her brother to fill that void. Fuentes began playing soccer at the young age of four after trying gymnastics and realizing this sport was not meant for her. From that point, soccer became a staple in her life.
Not only has Fuentes excelled in her career as a soccer player but also had moderate success as a basketball player as a shooting guard in high school. During her four years of high school Fuentes felt as if she was lost in her own mind from all of her responsibilities with school and all of the extra-curricular activities she was involved in. “When I was younger I wasn’t sure if I was gonna go to college for soccer, especially in high school I wasn’t sure I was gonna make it,” said Fuentes. “I just had this fear of failing and I was just struggling in soccer for a bit. I hit this peak where I felt I wasn’t getting any better and then one year I pushed through and started feeling it again.”
That year was in 2016 when she broke the Magruder High School record for most goals scored in a season and most goals in a career. She was also awarded team MVP that year. So far in her first year at UMBC she has contributed seven points for UMBC as she has two goals and three assists under her belt. One thing Fuentes has loved about this team is the family-first feeling that is expressed throughout the team. This can be accredited to the coaching style of Vanessa Mann. “I really like her. She’s not all about soccer; she’s about the culture. She looks at other aspects and wants you to be a better person. We do different kinds of things like we’ve been reading books and doing all kinds of stuff,” Fuentes explained.
When asked about her life outside of soccer, a smile came across Fuentes’ face as she said, “All I do is homework. I have so much homework, it is ridiculous.” Fuentes is a business tech major but is looking to find a new major as she has grown tired of the everyday aspects of business tech. With her love for sports, she is looking to find something in the area of sports marketing. She also has an immense love for math and hopes to do something with that as well.
Fuentes does occasionally play her Xbox and watch television, her favorite show being the Fairly OddParents. As she sat in the room discussing all the different things that she did growing up, Fuentes talked about the roots of her Hispanic heritage and how they would celebrate a quinceañera. Fuentes recalled that she spent her day in style as she had her parents take her on a cruise. “I didn’t really want a quinceañera. My parents said it was either that or a cruise, so I was definitely taking the cruise,” she said with a laugh. Fuentes is a fun-loving woman who wants nothing more than to succeed on and off the field.
When she finishes her college career she hopes to have gained the knowledge needed to one day coach her own team. She hopes to share her passion and love for the game to younger kids who share their excitement and enthusiasm for the game. As the talks dwindled down and time started to drift away, Fuentes made one final remark about those who give her inspiration. “You look at people like Neymar and Messi, who came from the bottom and had nothing and even when they failed they kept going,” she explained. “It’s people like that that keep me going.”
With a ton of time in front of her and the heart and perseverance to boot, it is easy to say that Fuentes has an amazing future and she will be a star for the Retrievers for years to come.