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Waddell column: Aguilar and Amador display sportsmanship and class after loss

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, April 14, 2018.
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Eric Aguilar and Juan Amador have made plenty of jaws drop the past three years, tantalizing Bridgeport fans with spectacular plays on the pitch.

Saturday after the Bulls’ 1-0 overtime loss to San Elizario in the 4A Region I final, they made jaws drop for a different reason. Only five minutes removed from a crushing defeat that ended Bridgeport’s season one win shy of returning to the state tournament, Amador and Aguilar started jogging across the field.

As they approached the San Elizario sideline, they began shaking hands with every Eagles player and coach, congratulating them on their victory. When they were finished, the two seniors put their arms around each other and walked across midfield together one final time.

If class and sportsmanship could be summed up in an instant, it would have come in this moment.

“They’re the classiest kids I’ve ever met,” said Bridgeport coach C.J. Cartwright. “They are a true example of what it means to be an athlete and to be mature beyond their years. You can’t ask for anything more.”

Bridgeport entered the year as the No. 1 ranked team in 4A. They went 17-3-1 in the regular season, capturing their third consecutive District 9-4A title. For stretches, the Bulls were dominant. At times, it seemed like no one could come close to hanging with them.

But at no point during the season did Aguilar and Amador let it get to their heads. Their humble, aw shucks demeanor was on display after each match. When Amador scored the first of his many hat tricks early in the season, he said he felt like he could have done better.

Aguilar, the de-facto leader of this team since Bridgeport soccer was conceived three years ago, always insisted the Bulls were taking everything one game at a time. When he stepped onto the field, it seemed like he savored every moment — no matter the opponent or score.

Reece Waddell

“It’s really changed my life,” Aguilar said of his time playing for Bridgeport. “We’re all family now. Every one of them.”

Bridgeport may have come up short in its quest to claim a state title, but they succeeded in accomplishing something few can stake a claim to — having two of the finest athletes Texas has to offer.

Together, these two soon-to-be high school graduates serve as an example of everything high school athletics should be.

“In soccer the goal is to score, but you need a goal in life,” Amador said. “Our goal was to go to state, but it’s not about that. It’s about the team and bringing the community [together].

“I’m going to miss it a lot, trust me.”

Don’t worry, Juan. Bridgeport is going to miss you and Eric, too.

Reece Waddell is the Messenger’s sports editor.

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