Seeking a safer living environment, Linfield College men's soccer star Domenico Del Prete migrated with his family six years ago to Oregon.
Fearing for their safety, the family left Valencia, Venezuela, a bustling city of 2 million people.
“Things in my country weren't going as good as we thought,” says Prete, referring to the South American nation where an average of 52 murders are committed every day. “There was a lot of kidnapping and a lot of violence. My mom [Iris Regeno] wanted us to study here. She wanted to keep us safe.”
Although Del Prete and his family left behind their extended family, friends, food and South American traditions for the United States, he says Oregon has become his adopted home.
“I've gotten used to (America),” says Del Prete. “It feels like home.”
Settling in Tigard, Del Prete attended Tualatin High School, where he flourished on the soccer field on the way to twice becoming an all-Pacific Conference forward.
Del Prete's soccer skills translated well at the college level. As a Linfield freshman last fall, he led the Wildcats with 10 goals.
“Domenico had a really great year. He led the conference in scoring,” remembers second-year coach Chuck Bechtol. “He strikes a great ball. He hammers it. His greatest challenge is just making sure he strikes it on the frame.”
In the classroom, Del Prete is majoring in international business. He also plans to minor in Spanish and French.
“I already know Spanish and I thought French could be another language for me. It's similar to Spanish. I like it,” says Del Prete.
Along with his studies, Del Prete became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity during his first semester at Linfield. Most of his close friends are members of the fraternity, many of whom are soccer players. It's here, in the fraternity, where Del Prete reveals his full personality.
“Off the field he's the biggest goofball anybody can find,” says sophomore defender Chris Musser. “He doesn't really understand slang so much. Usually when we are talking in slang, he's lost but laughing along anyway because it was funny.”
When he has free time, Del Prete enjoys watching movies, hanging out with friends and playing FIFA Soccer, a popular video game.
Though he's lived in the U.S. for six years, he still misses his home country. One day he hopes to visit. “I haven't gone back yet,” he says. “If I go back, it's just to visit.”
The 2013 Linfield soccer season has played out somewhat differently than Del Prete's freshman year. Up to this point, Del Prete has scored three goals to rank 17th in the Northwest Conference. As the leading point producer last fall, he admits there is a little bit of pressure.
“I haven't scored as many goals this year and there is that pressure,” says Del Prete. “Since I'm an upperclassman and last year's leading scorer, there's that pressure that I need to score.”
Despite the pressure, Bechtol believes Del Prete is performing well. “Domenico is doing alright. He's had times where he gets a little stressed and tries to do too much. He just has to stay within himself.”
Although Del Prete had a stellar freshman year, he is still working every day to be his best. Together, the Wildcats are pushing toward a winning season and a top-three finish in the NWC standings.
“He's still trying to get back to last year's form. But he's working hard every day and is trying to do the right things.”
-- Chris Haddeland '15