For a number of personal reasons Juan and Rachel Solis were not able to compete in athletics in high school. But the San Bernardino couple found a way to guide their daughter onto a very decorated high school career, culminated by Surena Solis being selected as the girls 2017 Ken Hubbs Award school winner at Pacific High School. Solis was not only a All-CIF caliber athlete, she graduated No. 8 in her senior class with a 4.06 GPA.
Juan Solis said he’s glad to see his six children bloom in a way that he and Rachel could never imagine for themselves. Serena, their oldest, lettered four years in soccer, cross country, and track at Pacific. She helped lead Pacific to its first soccer playoff appearance in 28 years, advancing to the CIF-Division 7 finals and then qualifying for the school’s first Southern California Regional playoff game.
Just making the playoffs this season looked impossible. In the past three years, Solis has been on Pacific soccer teams that had a combined 5-43-2 record. It went through three coaches and at one point the team was in such disarray that the girls were coaching themselves. “Coaching changes did cause some confusion but actually it made us stronger.” She pointed out that ten teammates “stuck together” from freshmen to seniors.
It took hard earned mental strength to just squeak into the playoffs this year. The Pirates had to win three straight Mountain Valley League games to make third place with a 6-4 record. Toward the end of this year’s banner season, Pacific won nine straight including four playoff games to finish 16-14 overall.
During Solis’ illustrious soccer career, she earned all-league honors four times, was league offensive player of the year, and first team All-CIF as a junior. This season she accepted a less glamorous role of playmaker.
To stay in soccer shape, Solis ran cross country four years, making all-league and was a CIF prelim qualifier twice. During track season, she was Pacific’s featured sprinter with a league best 12.8 in the 100 meters. She earned team MVP and all-league by anchoring the school’s 4×400 and 4×100 and had the league’s third best triple-jump distance. Solis will attend Cal State University, San Bernardino this fall as a criminal justice major. She was awarded an academic scholarship from the Los Angeles Police Department but was not offered an athletic scholarship. Cal State soccer coach Leveron Holliman did say a scholarship could occur next year.
Along with her on-field accolades, Solis was named 2017 Mountain Valley League Scholar Athlete of the Year. For the third time, she was picked as a San Bernardino Unified School District Athlete of the Year. She credited some of her success to her four-year membership with AVID, a demanding program that prepares students for college. She also was a AYSO head coach and assistant for boys and girls U8. On Sundays she helps at Way World Outreach Church by caring for babies and teaching toddlers.
Surena Solis said her parents have high expectations for her, often saying, “Do it to your ability or don’t do it at all.” She did acknowledge that her mother and father did not graduate high school, something that motivates the Solis family. Juan Solis says he wants the best for his children, something that he and Rachel were not afforded as teens. “I grew up in a different atmosphere in an underprivileged family,” said Juan Solis. “My father was not there and my mother was out there. My wife and I both had to make changes in life, so it’s awesome to see how well our children are doing.”
Surena Solis says her 13-year-old sister Unieque is already the better soccer player. She credited her father with coaching her in youth soccer and volunteering as an assistant at Pacific. “My mom gets up and runs with me in the morning. They are both at every game, track meet and practice. They are around so much that teammates call them mom and dad. It’s really helpful that my dad is there to coach.” Juan Solis works for San Bernardino County Children and Family Services. It is his job to work with parents who lost their children, some just getting out of prison. “I tell them change is possible. I think they listen.”
Surena Solis says she already knows somewhat about the lessons of life. She learned in high school that people can be temporary and that not every friendship lasts. “There are no hard feelings. You just learn from each person–each person has a life lesson to offer.”