Julian Vazquez, 17, sacrifices everything to join Real Salt Lake

Oct 8, 2018, 2:25 PM | Updated: 2:37 pm
17-year-old Julian Vazquez, after spending three years training at a boarding school, has been invi...
17-year-old Julian Vazquez, after spending three years training at a boarding school, has been invited to join the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)
(Real Salt Lake/Twitter)

SALT LAKE CITY — Julian Vazquez gave up everything for his dream. At the age of 14, the young athlete left his home and his family, moving 800 miles away from everything he knew to train to become a professional soccer player.

But now, after three long years of hard work, all of his sacrifices are paying off. At just 17-years-old, Vazquez has become the newest member of the Real Salt Lake soccer club.

It’s an incredible story of hard work and success – and of the unimaginable sacrifices involved.

14-years-old and 800 miles from home

The Real Salt Lake Under-16 team, Julian Vazquez's team while he was at the academy, photographed in 2017. (Real Salt Lake)

The Real Salt Lake Under-16 team, Julian Vazquez’s team while he was at the academy, photographed in 2017. (Real Salt Lake)

Julian Vazquez was only 14-years-old when he left his family to pursue his dreams. He was a soccer prodigy; an incredible athlete that, as those who knew him knew, was already destined for great things.

Vazquez got the chance to enroll in Real Salt Lake Academy, a high school that would connect him with coaches who could make him the best player he could be.

There was only one problem. At the time, Real Salt Lake Academy was located in Casa Grande, Arizona – about an 800 mile drive from his home of Millville, Utah.

For Julian Vazquez, the toughest part of the decision was being apart from his older brother, JC. In a conversation with the Deseret News, Vazquez said:

“It was super difficult because my older brother was a senior in high school and it would’ve been our last year playing high school together, but I knew he supported me in my decision as well as my family.”

That decision would reverberate throughout the rest of his life. For the next three years, Vazquez lived apart from his family, pushing himself through training, separated from those he loved by a 12-hour-long drive.

Julian Vazquez’s dream comes true

Julian Vazquez in a promotional photo introducing him to the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)

Julian Vazquez in a promotional photo introducing him to the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)

On Saturday, though, all of Vazquez’s hard work finally paid off. During halftime at Real Salt Lake’s match against the Portland Timbers, Vazquez was introduced to the Rio Tinto Stadium’s roaring crowd as the newest member of the team.

The 17-year-old player will be only the 16th homegrown player to join the team when he starts in the 2019 season. And on top of that, he’s achieved the incredible accomplishment of going pro from the moment he stepped out of high school.

Vazquez calls the signing a dream come true:

“It’s crazy to think about, but I’ve been working very hard for this moment and always dreamt of this happening. All the hard work is showing off now.”

Since October 2017, Real Salt Lake Academy has been moved to Herriman, Utah, meaning that Utah’s next Julian Vazquez will at least be able to stay in his home state.

But Vazquez’s accomplishment and the work he put into it serve a testimony to all athletes do to make it to the top.

More to the story

What if it was you? Would you give up being near your child for three years if it meant giving them a shot at their dreams?

Dave & Dujanovic listeners called in and shared their stories and their thoughts on everything Julian Vazquez did to achieve his dream. If you missed the show, you can still hear what they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Play Music

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

FILE - In a May 19, 2015 file photo, R. Scott Turner, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Me...
Curt Gresseth

Who are SuperAgers and are you one?

The public policy director with the Utah Alzheimer's Association describes the characteristics of so-called SuperAgers and what everyone can do now to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
1 day ago
A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit

After a significant snowfall in northern Utah, are you prepared for a winter emergency while on the roads? Wade Mathews of Utah Division of Emergency Management -- Be Ready Utah joins the shows to give out holidays tips on being prepared for any challenges while driving.
3 days ago
Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides. (Stock photo)...
Alejandro Lucero

Pass the stuffing not the uncomfortable conversation this Thanksgiving

Dave and Dujanovic spoke with an expert who will help you void the gobble-squabble around the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
9 days ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club...
Curt Gresseth

‘I trained for this,’ says veteran who took down gunman at nightclub

A veteran joins the show to provide insight into the actions of another veteran who limited the loss of life at a Colorado nightclub by subduing the gunman until police arrived on scene.
10 days ago
Rioters at the US Capitol...
Curt Gresseth

Utah bill would limit police access to your cellphone data

A spokesman for a a libertarian think tank in Utah discusses why he supports a bill at the Legislature limiting law enforcement access to the cellphone of a person near a crime scene.
11 days ago
rollercoaster lagoon...
Curt Gresseth

Lagoon spokesman explains big price hike for day pass

Lagoon announces Primordial, a new one-of-a-kind interactive rollercoaster, coming in 2023, but with the new ride comes higher season passes.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Julian Vazquez, 17, sacrifices everything to join Real Salt Lake