Raise the Pick shares the unique stories of UTEP student-athletes and how athletic scholarships have made a difference in their lives. Each of these students reflects on the value of their UTEP experiences and the opportunities they create for the future. Visit minerathleticclub.com to learn more about the Raise the Pick campaign.
Some people are just born to play certain positions on an athletic team.
“A lot of people were scared of the ball,” Alyssa Palacios said of her position as a soccer goalkeeper. “Also, my older sister was a goalie first and I wanted to be like my bigger sister. Once I was put at (goalie), I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
That prowess between the posts allowed Palacios, a kinesiology major who started playing soccer as a young girl, to earn a Division I scholarship from The University of Texas at El Paso to continue her passion for soccer and earn a college degree.
Her family — especially her extended family — were nervous about her attending UTEP because they were from the Dallas area and didn’t know anything about El Paso. Now they are unofficial ambassadors for Palacios’ adopted city.
“My parents come to so many of the games and they try to bring different family members, too,” Palacios said. “My family would say, ’Now that we see it, we love it. We’re comfortable with you being there.’”
Palacios has been solid on and off the field, earning a spot on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“Alyssa embodies UTEP soccer,” said Kevin Cross, UTEP Soccer head coach. “She is tough as nails, and she will do anything for UTEP soccer to make a save.”
Palacios is ready to enjoy her senior year in her second home, and continue to be thankful for the opportunity a Division I scholarship to UTEP has provided.
“It’s meant everything (to me),” Palacios said. “I just knew if I didn’t go through soccer I wasn’t going to get the full college experience of getting to live in a dorm and the whole campus life. I’ve been able to meet all these people from different places and do different things. I am so grateful.” - Leonard Martinez
After a year-and-a-half at the University of Oklahoma, Aaron Terrazas needed a mulligan in his college golf career.
“I just decided I needed to get more playing time because I wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish,” said Terrazas, who just completed his junior season. “Then I started looking for options.”
Terrazas remembered The University of Texas at El Paso recruiting him in high school and chose to give it a closer look.
He enrolled in 2016 and is studying communication.
“I’ve loved El Paso since the first day I was here on my recruiting visit,” said Terrazas, who grew up in Veracruz and Mexico City, Mexico. “It felt like home coming from a culture that’s pretty similar to El Paso’s culture. The people around here are great. I didn’t have to go through an adaptation process and that was huge for me because I could just get to work in school and on the team stuff.”
Terrazas’ father played for the Mexican national soccer team, so the younger Terrazas grew up playing sports. At age 14, his family said he needed to choose between soccer and golf.
“I picked golf because I just fell in love with the process of getting better because of me, not because I have to depend on a team,” Terrazas said.
He became the No. 1 junior golfer in Mexico for three years in high school, a four-year member of the Mexican national team, and placed in the top 10 at the Toyota Junior Gold World Cup and the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
Earning a Division I scholarship to play at UTEP is something for which he will always be grateful.
“The degree means a lot to me,” he said. “As soon as I get that degree … I won’t have the words to describe how thankful I will be to UTEP. Ultimately, all of the athletes want to accomplish that goal, and the scholarship gave me a path to follow my future.” -Leonard Martinez