Athlete of the Week: MB’s Arrendondo at home in goal

In his first full season playing goaltender, Myrtle Beach High junior Jose Arrendondo is proving to be a fast learner.

No surprise there. The native of Mexico has been forced to play catch-up since moving to the U.S. at the age of 13.

“When I first moved here from Mexico, I couldn’t speak one word of English,” said Arrendondo, who has quickly learned the language as well as the sport he loves. “I played soccer in the streets in Mexico, but not like this. My father likes baseball, but I didn’t like to play baseball. I wanted to play soccer.”

Arrendondo met Paco Perez, who got him involved in organized soccer. He played forward for most of his career, including his freshman year at Carolina Forest, but his transfer to Myrtle Beach has also meant another transition on the pitch.

“Jose has been huge for us this season,” said Myrtle Beach coach Jason Himmelsbach, who lost star goalie David Griscom to graduation last year. “Jose was a great offensive player for us last year, but we really needed him in goal this season, and he has been lights out.”

Arrendondo, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week after receiving more than 20,000 votes, credits his uncle for recognizing his natural ability as a goalie and helping him make the move between the pipes. He also thanks Himmelsbach and his teammates for making the switch a smooth one, and Arrendondo has rewarded them with some dramatic heroics.

Earlier this month the Seahawks went to a sudden-death shootout with rival Socastee, and Arrendondo delivered by saving three penalty kicks to preserve the win. The next night at West Florence, with the game still tied following a shootout, Arrendondo left the goal to take a PK of his own that proved to be the game-winner.

“I really don’t feel nervous. I try not to put pressure on myself,” Arrendondo explained. “I know that if I make it we win, but if I don’t we are (still alive), so I just do my best to win the game for my teammates.”

Arrendondo hopes to continue helping his teammates all the way to the Class AAA state title game, where the Seahawks suffered a second-half collapse last season to settle for second place in the state. Now, with Arrendondo in goal, he hopes to help the Seahawks take the next step.

“Jose has come such a long way in a short time,” Himmelsbach said. “He was kind of a quiet kid, but he’s starting to come out of his shell a little bit and be more of a team leader for us. The kids have a lot of faith in him.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I think we can make it,” said Arrendondo, who has 20 saves on the season for the 4-2-1 Seahawks. “We have a very good team and we believe we can do it.”

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