This time next year, Brayan Torres is planning to be in Spain, going to school and playing semiprofessional soccer.
This time 10 years ago, Torres was learning to play soccer in an open space at his apartment complex.
And this time 20 years ago, Torres’ parents were living in Mexico and neither graduated from high school.
The Puyallup High School senior midfielder finds it all hard to believe — where he is now compared with where he’s been.
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“This is a chance for me to pursue my dream,” Torres said. “I always told my mom that I wanted to go professional one day, and I’m going to be the first person in my family to go to college.
“I’m really proud of myself for that — I’m happy that my parents decided to give us a better life, and sacrificed the hardships they had to go through to get us here.”
Torres was made in Mexico, but born in Tacoma, as he put it. Neither of his parents played soccer, he said. His mother, Alicia, grew up in Nayarit, Mexico, and his father is from Jalisco.
But he began playing when he was 5 years old, crafting his game among the friends at his Fife apartment complex.
When he entered Puyallup High’s program as a freshman, coach Matt White couldn’t help but notice. Torres’ skills reminded him of Andrew Weishaar, who graduated from Puyallup in 2010 as the school’s all-time leading goal scorer.
“He was trying out and I was like, ‘Who is that kid?’ ” White said. “He was instantly noticeable for what he brought to the field.
“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this could be the second coming of Andrew Weishaar.’ ”
Marbella United FC was impressed, too.
Soccer is Torres’ love. But education is just as much a part of his plans, which is why he had applied to Pacific Lutheran University, hoping to play soccer there.
He traveled to San Diego with his club team, Pac Northwest, for the Surf Cup and that’s where he was noticed by a Marbella (pronounced Mar-beya) scout. Torres received an email a few weeks later asking if he’d be interested in heading to Spain.
He thought it was a spam email.
But a follow-up email came from program director Bobby Lennon. The offer was to attend The American College of Marbella and get a one-year contract to play for Marbella FC, which used to be called the US Soccer Academy. Torres would not lose NCAA eligibility.
“We were worried about Brayan, like ‘Is this a safe thing?’ ” White said.
White has never had a player head overseas before. But it certainly helps Torres that he’s bilingual and he’s excited about Spain and its intense soccer culture.
“So I was like, ‘Let’s say you go there and hypothetically it is the worst soccer experience of your lifetime — you just got paid to spend a year in Spain,’ ” White said. “I’m trying to figure out how that could be a bad thing.”
Junior teammate Ethan Carlson thinks Torres’ even-keeled temperament is made for European soccer.
“He’s super composed and does his thing,” Carlson said. “You never see him get down on anyone other than himself. But even that is rare. He’s positive all the time.”
But before Torres leaves, there’s a Puyallup curse he’s hoping to break.
The Vikings have won three consecutive 4A SPSL titles and reached the 4A state tournament in six of the past seven years — yet have one state victory to show for it.
They had 14 shots on goal to Lewis and Clark’s five in the first round last year, but left Spokane with a 1-0 loss.
“I was shocked — ‘Did this really just happen?’ ” Torres said. “We definitely could have won the game and gone far last year. That was hard because that was one of the best groups I’ve ever been a part of — not just on the field, but off of the field.”
Puyallup’s last state victory came in a first-round game against Skyline in 2012. The Vikings are 1-6 in the state playoffs since making the title game in 2008.
“We talk about it and joke around about it, like ‘We are always out in the first round. We’re cursed!’ ” Torres said.
White said he changed up his system slightly this year after questioning some of his philosophies in the offseason.
“A coaching colleague of mine, his argument about me was, ‘You play too pretty too often instead of just going for result.’ And another coaching colleague that has been very successful at the state level, his argument was, ‘You can actually play a lot prettier,’ ” White said. “The goal is we should be playing both. … Some teams are just result-oriented and they can get to state, but is it worth it? Are the kids learning anything?
“But, for me, it comes down to, ‘I want my players to learn.’ ”
So that they can have an experience like Torres is planning for, playing for Marbella and fulfilling his dream of playing soccer in Europe, while being the first in his family to get a college education.
“It’s crazy how everything is happening,” Torres said. “I just thank all my friends and family and teammates and coaches.
“But we’re also trying to end this year on a good note and win league again and make it as far as we can in state — maybe even win a state title.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677