Inspiration is the key to prominence

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Ronan McEnroe (middle) celebrating a goal at University Soccer Stadium. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

The first steps of becoming an outstanding collegiate athlete do not just incorporate natural talent, but rather require list of people and experiences along the way which influence a talented individual. For Chico State’s senior soccer player Ronan McEnroe, coming from a humble home base and meeting one-of-a-kind individuals have all motivated him to keep his drive for the game through the grueling season.

“Bakersfield is a town that has a bunch of players that love the game too,” McEnroe said. “(There were) a lot of teams I could play for, a lot of talented players I could be with and be able to grow as a player.”

McEnroe’s interest in soccer started in his backyard with his four brothers. While growing up in a family with two immigrant parents, McEnroe learned the important values of hard work from their hardships and how they were able to provide a life for their family in the United States. Home was an epicenter of soccer talent and life stories that propelled him to the next level.

“They started literally from nothing,” McEnroe said of his parents. “All of a sudden they had five sons in eight years. (My dad) was able to go back to school after he had his first three kids. All while he was doing that, he had to stay real disciplined and got really good grades in med school. My mom, while my dad was going to school, she was being the primary breadwinner working her ass off to support him to go to school and for us to have food on the table.”

McEnroe believed that soccer was the greatest sport to show his talent. He grew up watching players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Yaya Toure, who provided a palette of excellence for McEnroe to follow on and off the field.

“I liked soccer because it’s a team sport and you can show off your individuality in it,” McEnroe said. “In football you have big pads and a helmet, it’s a pretty straightforward game. With soccer you have these moves and there’s so many ways you can show off your talent. You can play a really nice pass. You can show off your fancy footwork or you can be a great defender too.”

After arriving at Chico State, McEnroe has had more individuals to pattern his game style after. Competing with former players on the field and learning from his current teammates has encouraged him to work on different parts of his game.

“(Justin Womsely) had springs in his leads and would win every single header that came his way, which is a part of my game,” McEnroe said. “ I got guys like Mikey (Hirsch), Cooper (Renteria), they’re so are talented with what they do with the ball which makes me want to be better as a player… Jeremiah Egujie was just a beast. He had this Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan mentality that I try to emulate.”

Thanks to McEnroe’s diverse background, he has also found a variety of music to be helpful in his endeavors.

“Music is a huge tool that you can use,” McEnroe said. “I have five different playlists on any given day that I can run through and inspire me before games. I listen to EDM, Hip Hop or whatever it has to be to get me in that mood.”

Role models extend beyond the field for McEnroe. His friends back in his hometown help him realize his current journey is not nearly as hard as their lives. The heartfelt stories of his parent’s and teammate’s immigrant experiences are a blueprint for his motivation.

“I’ve seen poverty and I’ve traveled a lot,” McEnroe said. “I went to my mom’s home country, which is in Africa, two summers ago. That was such a surreal experience. You see kids begging for money. To come back here and you’re like, ‘this is not even funny how good we have it in the States.’ If you’re not taking advantage of everything we have, it’s almost like you’re spitting on those who are less fortunate than you.”

McEnroe has used his teammates throughout the years to his advantage as far as adding to his soccer game, music choices and overall personality. Being able to see genuine hardships in other countries has helped inspire his next journey after Chico State.

“I’m currently trying to get my Irish passport,” McEnroe said. “Maybe I can work in Europe and find a team out there. I’ve always wanted to be a (veterinarian), but there are a lot of other options with my degree, and I think I would like to be (involved in) health care and medical field.”

Wesley Harris can be reached at [email protected] or @jiggy_wes on twitter.