Since Partida was 6 years old, he has been running around, chasing after a soccer ball and playing the sport he loves. His passion for the game started with the simplest of interests.
“I just liked the whole atmosphere of being on the soccer field and all the fans and everything,” Partida said. “Most of the time, I just remember being excited to make my parents happy, especially if I scored. I liked being out there playing, but I especially liked seeing my parents happy after the game.”
While during the earliest stages of his soccer career, he took pride in seeing the smiles from his mom and dad, the intensity of the game has increased over the years for Partida. Now, he looks forward to taking the field in order to see what he is capable of.
“My favorite part of the game now is the fact that I have to push myself in order to be at a high enough level where I can play well,” he said.
Partida’s opponents are not as eager to witness him challenge himself. With his speed, Partida combines quick feet that allow him to dribble circles around defenders and eyes that span the entire field to let him feed his teammates with precise passes.
“The biggest thing that Kevin brings to our team aside from his leadership is his skill sets,” Sparks coach Frank Avilla said. “Kevin has a mature vision on the field. He reads things properly right away and obviously the rest of his teammates benefit from that.”
It is those abilities and foresight that make Partida such a key component and leader for the Railroaders.
“I take pride in being a leader on the team,” Partida said. “I take pride in being able to help out my teammates. It makes me better to know that if they kind of depend on me as a leader, than I have to perform well, too.”
Partida is trying to raise his level of play even more now as the Railroaders get set to defend their state crown. It was an experience he did not get to be a part of he had to watch Sparks win the state title from the stands because he had a possible opportunity at the pro level.
“At beginning of the season I went, and I decided to come back and after that I had a couple scouting tryouts, but because I went to those I had to miss out on zone and state,” Partida said. “I was going to stay but then I decided to leave. It was a good experience because I think if I wouldn’t have gone, I would have always thought ‘What would have happened if I wouldn’t have gone?’
“Now that I went, I know for sure what I want to do. I know I want to play college. I want to go to college, play four years and then maybe try to get drafted or something. After having that experience, I know I won’t regret any of my decisions.”
Choosing to leave one of his best players off the roster for the run to state last season was a hard decision for Avilla, but one that he said he made for both the team and Partida.
“It was hard because we had to make a decision on Kevin’s behalf and on the team’s behalf,” Avilla said. “Kevin had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was a good opportunity for him. He’s advanced-trained and whenever you can have that opportunity, it’s rare. As a team, we missed him because you don’t replace a player like him at this level, but we were fortunate to recover. This year as a young man, he came back and he is playing for all the right reasons. He’s been working hard all his life for this and I’m happy to see that he’s getting that success. It’s been a pleasure coaching him.”
Watching from the sidelines rather than celebrating on the field with his friends and teammates was difficult for Partida and has made him want this year’s state championship even more.
“At times, when I saw that they were having trouble I wish I could be there and help them out a bit. It was still good seeing them get that win in the end,” Partida said of watching the state title contest. “This year will be a lot different than last year. Being in the stands you always feel like you wish you could be out there and change some things, even though they won. I just hope that we can make it there this year and I can be a part of that.”
For now, Partida’s focus is on helping the Railroaders reach the state championship game again. Beyond that though, the senior also has some promising prospects.
“I’m talking with a couple of colleges, but I haven’t really decided where. I’m just trying to figure out where will fit best,” Partida said. “It’s very exciting. Not a lot of people from this town or school have that chance so to have a chance to be one of the first ones, it makes me feel good.”
Regardless of where Partida ends up, his coach knows that he has the potential to do great things.
“I think he’s going to have a lot of success. He’s not just a good athlete on the pitch. He’s a good student in the classroom. He’s leading down his path, and for his path he realizes that he has to pull good grades and he’s dedicated to doing that,” Avilla said. “So far, with his leadership and his dedication, he’s right there. He’s mature and he understands the requirements for college and we’re hoping that he can go and play. He has skill set worthy of Division I.”