Jonathan Suarez could have signed a professional soccer contract and left Fontana High School instead sticking around for his senior year to play high school soccer. Suarez did not take the money and run, nor did he choose to play soccer exclusively at the high-profiled private academy level.
“Yes. There were a number of professional teams who wanted to sign Johnny during high school,” said his soccer coach at Fontana Erik Espino. “Soccer, unlike other sports you can sign a pro contract no matter your age. Johnny could have signed to play in Mexico before his senior year but wanted to play in high school with his friends that he grew up with. Plus his parents are extremely proud of him and push him to succeed in school.”
His decision to stay in high school and not impulsively jump at the first money has already been an investment that has paid off nicely. Not only did Suarez lead FoHi to its seventh league title in eight years, he was the CIF-Southern Section Division 2, player of the year. Likewise he was named to the first team by both the Press Enterprise and San Bernardino County Sun newspapers. Suarez helped Fontana to a 22-2-2 record, good for a #2 ranking in CIF-SS, Division 2.
Suarez eventually signed right after the high school soccer season and left in February for Buenos Aires, Argentina where he played for the Dock Sud development team. He came back to Fontana after the season to graduate with his class. But he was quickly signed again, this time by the higher level Porto FC of Quertaro, Portugal.
Espino, who now is Kaiser High School’s coach stays in contact with Suarez and says good things are happening at a fast pace for his former player. “He is getting offers from other teams in Portugal and one in Sweden is getting serious. Johnny has made the right decisions and is taking advantage of his opportunities,” said Espino,
Espino acknowledged that Suarez didn’t necessarily like school work. A bio provided to the Hubbs Foundation by FoHi Athletic Director Brandon Colbrunn, showed Suarez graduated with a 2.5 GPA, yet did get a 3.2 during his senior year. Suarez’s overall body of work at FoHi included assisting with the Special Olympics and won the school’s Ken Hubbs Award nomination.
“Johnny developed his own personality in the summer between his junior and senior year. He wanted the ball at his feet,” recalled Espino. “He was your typical immature 16-year-old kid who as a senior started realizing his ability. I really got to know him. If he keeps his mind right he will become a great professional soccer player.”
Colbrunn told that Suarez already has left high marks at Fontana after breaking most of the school’s scoring records set by Major League Soccer great Ante Rozov, who graduated in 1992 and went on to an illustrious 14-year-year career. Suarez scored 44 goals this season to lead the CIF-SS while breaking FoHi’s single season record. His season mark was tied for #3 in state. He added 25 assists. His 65 career goals are also a new standard at Fontana.
“Johnny is always working without the ball. He just makes things happen,” said Espino. (At press time, Espino said Suarez has left Portugal and signed a contract to play for a Division I team in Mexico).