BY ANTHONY MENDOLIA
Photo courtesy of COD Athletics.
Marlin Bravo is a freshman for the Roadrunners soccer team. She’s an inspiration to her coach and her teammates who describe her as funny, amazing and determined. Bravo has impaired hearing but that doesn’t stop her from reaching her goals.
Bravo lost her hearing at the age of four, but that hasn’t stopped her from achieving her dream of playing soccer at a high level. Soccer is a sport that has been part of her family through generations, and there was no way that Bravo’s disability was going to stop her from following her family’s footsteps.
Bravo said her teammates, “are so great at communicating, I’ve never been around a team that’s just so great and willing to communicate with me,” Bravo said through her interpreter.
Bravo’s talent has not gone unnoticed both in high school and in college. COD’s soccer head coach, Garret Estrin saw her talent back when he was still coaching soccer for Rancho Mirage High School.
“We were at this tournament and we were scouting this game before us. I noticed her interpreter on the sideline and some of my players were saying ‘Hey coach, look.’ I started watching the game and I noticed that she was clearly their best player,” said Estrin.
Rancho Mirage played Bravo’s Rancho Verde High School in the very next game of the tournament. Current Roadrunner defender Victoria Releford, a freshman from Rancho Mirage High School was on the field that day playing for Rancho Mirage, she played against Bravo, her soon-to-be future teammate for the very first time.
“My first impression of her was, she is talented. It was crazy just how talented she was even with the fact she had a disadvantage, and I was really shocked,” Releford said.
During that game and another high school all-star game that Estrin coached, he was able to convince Bravo to join his Roadrunner team. She was welcomed with open arms. “We are all very supportive of her,” teammate Shaden Arceo said, “she’s teaching us new things and we’re teaching her new things, it just goes both ways and it’s a lot of fun.”
Bravo’s teammates have taken the initiative to learn certain signs in order to effectively communicate with Marlin both on and off the field. “She’s adjusted to us giving her signs and so have we,” teammate Fernanda Rodriguez said, “sometimes we’re just used to talking with each other but with [Bravo] we have to know how to communicate through signs, and through that, we’ve learned a lot.”
Releford said, “as a program, we have amazing coaches that all get along with each other, so the chemistry is so good that when we get on the field, it’s like we’re off the field together, hanging out.”
Bravo has adjusted well to the intense practice and game schedules at COD. She is having a positive impact on the program and is bringing her teammates and coaches closer together.
“With any program, I’ve coached, I want [our team] to be considered a second family,” coach Estrin said. “Bravo is just like any other player, so there was never any issue at all of accepting her, she fit in right away. The girls started asking her how to do a sign and an instant friendship developed. They wanted to be able to communicate with her.”
Bravo is experiencing great success on the field. She scored her first goal of the season earlier this year in a 5-0 throttling of Imperial Valley, a story big enough to make it on KESQ news. However, Bravo’s ambitions for this season are not finished yet.
“My goals for the rest of the year are to always continue developing communication,” Bravo said, “and to always try to score at least one goal every single game.” Let’s see if Bravo and her teammates can continue to work towards these goals, as they travel next to Chula Vista on Tuesday the Oct. 16 to take on Southwestern.