Weatherford’s Manuel Lujan – Character Counts Presented By BancFirst Weatherford

By John Tranchina

Manuel Lujan has worked very hard over the last few years to become a better soccer player, improving his fitness and growing into a respected team captain for Weatherford High School’s varsity squad. “I have very high expectations for myself, and I try to make my teammates follow my standards as a leader,” said Lujan, a senior. “My own standards are set higher for myself but I want my teammates to reach at least a certain level, I encourage them every single day. I want them to get better, I want them to beat me, I want to know that they’re actually getting better.

“I earned it my junior year, and I’ve never looked back since. I want to continue being the best I can be, for myself and for my team.”

Lujan’s Weatherford teammate Hunter Pagliassotti, a fellow senior, has only nice things to say about Lujan’s leadership abilities. “Manny, he’s a really good player,” said Pagliassotti, the Eagles’ starting goalkeeper. “I’ve always looked at him as a leader, and he’s gotten along well with all the other teammates. He definitely shows everyone what he wants done and how he wants it done and that’s what I think a good leader would do. He’s not mean about it, he’s not ornery about it; he’s straight to the point, but he’s nice about it. And he’s a really good guy.”

Lujan has been playing soccer for about 10 years, since elementary school, and saw a dramatic increase in his ability to contribute on the pitch once he put extra effort into his conditioning. “In middle school, I wasn’t in great shape,” said Lujan, who will be attending Southwestern Christian University in Bethany next year. “I had technique, I had basically everything but wasn’t in the best shape and never really got many minutes at the middle school level. I was one of the bigger-set kids back in the day. My sophomore year, I started running cross country – completely different from soccer, obviously, I had to work really hard to get where I’m at. I didn’t start too good – 5Ks, they’re tough races, but I think that mentally helped me and physically helped me.”

He kept up with cross country again and even joined track last year after suffering an injury in cross country, doing both track and soccer at the same time to get back into good condition for soccer. “My junior year, I was in cross country again, but I had a stress fracture in my ankle, so I couldn’t run that season and obviously, I was getting out of shape,” said Lujan, who finished 68th at the Class 4A state cross country meet this year, finishing the 5K race in 18:59. “I went into soccer, talked to the track coach, and I asked if I could run track with them to get into shape. I would go to track practice for a good 45 minutes to an hour and from there I would go straight to soccer practice, so I’d be doing double workouts, and obviously, that benefits me and benefits my team.

“So I worked really hard to get back to where I was, and my junior season was one of my best seasons, so I hope I could continue that my senior year.”