On both toe caps of his white cleats, Blackfoot High School midfielder Coque Velasquez drew Disney icon Mickey Mouse with black marker.
A traditional Mickey Mouse for the right cleat. A Fantasia-version Mickey for the left.
Symbolizing a Ying and Yang of sorts, Velasquez said the drawings help him remember his deceased little brother, grandmother and the struggles of poverty he’s had to overcome. But they also commemorate another brother — Payton Monson — who he cares for as his own kin and the potential bright future ahead.
And, well, the Mickey Mouse cleats could also be taken literally.
Velasquez is magical with a soccer ball.
“Coque is just fun to watch,” Idaho Falls coach Ryan Cook said. “He’s a dangerous player. He’s fast. He can shoot. He can do it all.”
The senior recorded 26 goals and 33 assists this season and said he has about 27 colleges looking at him. Behind those numbers is consistency and athleticism highly complimented by local coaches.
His solid frame and ball control frustrated opposing backlines often. His flair for the dramatic — like performing a backflip after scoring his second goal during the District 5-6 championship against Century — captivated spectators that watched him tear apart those backlines.
His talent led Blackfoot to an undefeated regular season and its first district title since 2012.
And that captivating talent is the reason Velasquez earns the Post Register’s Boys Soccer All-Area Player of the Year honor for the second-straight year.
“Every single day, I wake up, and I know what I’m chasing after,” Velasquez said. “There’s no shame in being poor. We may be poor, or may be stuck in the same spot forever, but at the same time who knows what can happen the next day, ya know? … To this day, whatever I want to do and accomplish in life, I can.”
Ambitious and wise, Velasquez is hopeful of one day playing professional soccer.
With younger students and friends looking up to him, he said, Velasquez said he wants to help his family become more financially stable. He said he’ll try out with the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer from Jan. 18-22 in Los Angeles.
During an hour-long interview, he said he can envision defenders’ movements and tactics on the pitch just as much as he can envision himself one day playing soccer in England, like Blackfoot head coach Liam Pope once did, or for an MLS club.
“Any kid deserves a chance, poor or rich,” Velasquez said. “I can honestly tell you: I have no fear when it comes to chasing my dream.”
Velasquez said along with the Monson family, his parents and his teammates, Pope has been instrumental in his quest to one day turn pro.
He said Pope took an interest in him around the fifth grade, playing up at open fields near Blackfoot and eventually becoming a four-year starter for Blackfoot. Since Velasquez’s freshman year, the Broncos went 47-20-7. Of those wins, 33 came in the past two seasons.
Velasquez called Pope a “father figure” to him.
“He was our playmaker,” Pope said of Velasquez. “He’s the one that opened stuff up. His touch and speed will leave anybody for dead.”
Velasquez’s philosophy is to reach his goal “step-by-step.” He began playing soccer on dirt and gravel at River View Villa, a mobile home park near Blackfoot.
Now he’s ready for the next step. His first focus is graduating from Blackfoot in the spring and then taking his chances at Division I soccer, joining a soccer academy or even trying out for some pro clubs.
“I would like to see the kid progress in soccer because he deserves it,” Rigby coach Bart Mower said.