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By Nick Schrager
A ball lifts off blades of grass. With ease, it slices through thick air like butter.
In one sport, the ball’s a sphere. In another, it’s a more egg-shaped.
One’s a “futball” and the other is a football.
And though they are different, one Marion County Knight kicks both.
His name — Aldo Perez.
Perez began playing soccer when he was just 6 years old. One year later he began playing little league football.
You could say sports are just in his blood.
That’s because even when he’s not playing them, he is watching them.
“On Saturdays it’s laid back… just watch some football,” Perez said.
Perez started his high school athletic career when he was in middle school by playing JV soccer for the Knights.
He said he likes to play soccer because he gets to run. Football, however, is another story.
“I just like hitting,” Perez said, “and just bring people down.”
After playing soccer for a year or two for the Knights, soccer Coach Greg Conley said Perez went on hiatus so he could try his hand at playing American football.
“He has been ridiculously dedicated to the weight room and transformed his physique,” Conley said.
So much so that he is now built more for football than soccer. But even so, Perez would not let that stop him from playing both. While watching soccer, he realized just how much he missed it.
So after some wheeling and dealing with the coaches, Perez got just what he wanted.
Conley and Knights football Coach Jeff Robbins commend Perez for his heart and actions.
“We’re not just talking about two varsity sports, we’re talking about two varsity sports that require a lot of strength, endurance, mental toughness, and to be able to do both of these and be at the right places at the right time… takes an outrageous amount of responsibility,” Conley said.
Robbins said it takes a lot character to play both sports at the same time.
On the soccer field, Perez plays as a left-side fullback, but when he is on the gridiron, he plays as a kicker and linebacker.
Practice is no easy task. The teams have him for different days of the week for games.
Both coaches are worried that one of their players can get hurt. But if Perez gets injured, it means neither team can use him.
Robbins said he believes if he got hurt, it would be due to the fatigue of playing both sports. Conley said that luckily so far, he has not been hurt and it has worked out.
“As of now, knock on wood, it’s a great partnership… it’s a great marriage,” Conley said.
According to him, when the football team needs Perez, he’s theirs. But when the soccer team needs him, he is provided.
But what if there is a football and soccer game going on at the same time?
“I would leave it up to the kid,” Robbins said. “That would be completely Aldo’s choice. He’s an intelligent young man and would make a well informed decision.”
Both Conley and Robbins said Perez is a good player.
But good may not be the right word to describe him.
Conley said Perez had proven to be a very useful player on the field because he can fire the ball down different flanks from his position.
“It makes us a very dangerous as a team,” Conley said.
And though this is not the first time the Knights soccer and football teams have shared players, Perez makes for a unique case. Robbins said he has never had a soccer player do more than just kick.
“You know, Aldo’s on the field defensively, sometimes offensively for us,” Robbins said. “So this is a first for me and so far it has worked pretty good for us.”
Robbins said Perez’s performance has even caught the eye of a college.
An old coach of Robbins who works for Pikeville University watched Perez play in a game against Bardstown. Robbins said the coach was there to talk with someone else but left with a new objective.
“He came out wanting Aldo. Aldo caught his eye,” Robbins said.
Knights fans can rest easy for now.
That’s because they still have Perez, if only for a little while longer.