Playing Division I soccer has always been the goal for Douglas High graduate Eddie Vega.
This fall, after a series of bumps in the road, he'll finally realize it.
Vega, the 2007 Sierra League Midfielder of the Year who led the Tigers to a regional championship and state runner-up finish the same season, will play for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas starting this fall.
UNLV coaches first saw him playing for American River College and invited him to play for the Runnin' Rebels starting last season.
"I took a statistics class that didn't transfer in for my math, so I had to sit the season out." Vega said. "I was pretty excited to go, but I ended up having to stay home. Watching everyone else enjoying college was a big motivation to keep at it.
"I was struggling with some family stuff at home too. It was just a dark time for me."
But Vega clung to his faith to get through the trials.
"I wasn't playing, I was going through some tough times," Vega said. "But I have a good relationship with the Lord, and I know that He has a plan. Sometimes you don't understand what is going on around you. But this was all part of His plan."
He played in an indoor soccer league in Carson City through the winter to stay in shape and then moved to Las Vegas for the spring semester.
"I went to classes and trained on my own," Vega said. "I tried out with the team and was asked to stay. "It's been my dream to play Division I soccer. Making the team was a dream come true. When I heard it, it just filled my heart with joy."
Vega is playing in recreational leagues in Reno and Tahoe this summer and will report to UNLV in late July to start getting acclimated to the heat before practice starts Aug. 8.
The Rebels will take on a solid slate of opponents this fall that includes Saint Mary's, which made the Elite 8 last season, and Syracuse.
"It'll be good soccer, and I'm excited to be a part of it," Vega said. "I just want to thank my coach from Douglas (Milko Vasquez). I was always soccer first and didn't really care about my academics. But he always pushed me, both in soccer and in school. It's finally all kind of coming together and I'm excited for the opportunity."
Vega said he will major in criminal justice starting this fall.