For Douglas High’s Andrew Robles, soccer is a journey
Andrew Robles’ soccer training camps
Futsal or organized street soccer for all ages: Every Sunday from Jan. 12 through March 1
Carson Futbol Club (Carson FC) for ages 7-10: Starting Jan. 5 at Sierra Lutheran High School
Reno 1868 spring break camp: April 13-16 at Pete Livermore Sports Complex
For more information, contact Andrew Robles through his Facebook page ‘Let’s Kick It’ or by phone (916) 936-6293
It’s been a winding road for Douglas High girls soccer coach Andrew Robles.
Even before his first year as a varsity head coach and a state tournament appearance with the Tigers, Robles had ideas of building a community around soccer.
The sport has been in his life nearly since birth and he isn’t shy in admitting, soccer is the reason he is where he is.
“Soccer saved my life,” said Robles, candidly.
How it got started
Robles’ childhood home is in Lynwood, California in Los Angeles County.
Lynwood borders the cities of Compton and Watts, places notorious for their violence and gang activity.
“A very rough upbringing in the area. What you see in the movies about the area, that’s what it is,” said Robles.
However, soccer and having eight siblings helped keep Robles out of too much trouble.
Robles said his parents did everything they could to keep his family out of as much harm as possible, either by sending them to private school or letting them kick the ball around in their backyard.
“A lot of families are in that situation, but it’s kind of the eat or be eaten situation. Growing up, school wasn’t a priority at all. As long as we were alive and staying out of trouble, my parents were kind of happy,” Robles said.
In his early years, Robles’ love of soccer was contained to his backyard and outmaneuvering his brothers. Playing in his backyard, against elder brothers eager to beat him, forced Robles into developing foot skills in tight windows.
As the fifth child of eight growing up, Robles didn’t have context of anything else.
It wasn’t until he started playing travel soccer at the age of 13 that he started to figure out what was outside of Lynwood.
The experiences of joining a travel team in Orange County opened Robles’ eyes to what life was like outside of his hometown.
“When I would talk to them it was like story time for them, hearing about where I grew up,” said Robles. “Having my own seat in car rides … snacks, they have an outside refrigerator. I didn’t know people lived that way.”
Realizing soccer was a path out
Robles knew he had soccer talent in his blood.
By the time he was a sophomore at St. John Bosco High School, Robles had been named team and offensive MVP.
His high school career was capped after that when Chivas USA came calling and signed the 15-year-old to their youth academy.
From there, Robles’ experiences in the soccer world grew exponentially.
At 15, Robles was playing against Chivas USA’s under-19 team alongside his older brother, Eder.
As his soccer prowess grew and he finished high school, Robles went to Cerritos College.
He spent two years at Cerritos College and helped lead the Falcons to the No. 2 ranking in the nation and won a CCCAA state championship.
By the time he had finished his two years at Cerritos College, Robles was continuing to work his way up the Chivas USA youth system, which eventually took him to Europe and playing around clubs like Borussia Dortmund.
Even with soccer showcasing his talents, Robles said he was worried about all the time he was spending in Lynwood and looked for a way out.
His final collegiate soccer stop came at San Diego Christian College, just far enough away from home that he could avoid visiting.
Robles led the school to its best finish in 15 years and went on to become a two-time all-conference player, but San Diego Christian College turned out to be much more than two years of soccer.
Robles met his wife, Allison, while attending SDCC and proposed after their graduation.
“It’s crazy. I went there for soccer and I end up meeting my wife and being the first male in my family to graduate college,” said Robles. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
Getting out of Lynwood
It’s the path out of Lynwood that changed Robles’ view of the sport.
After graduating college, Andrew and Allison moved to Sacramento around 2015 and Andrew decided he was done with the sport he had grown up playing.
“To have it not work out how you envisioned it growing up,” said Robles. “I just decided I was done with it.”
That same year, Robles had one of his younger brothers pass away in 2015 of cardiac arrest, at the age of 19.
“If we’re sick, we suck it up. We don’t have the privilege to go to the hospital,” Robles said.
Robles found work in medical sales, but was approached by his aunt, Debbie Haliday, about running a soccer camp.
Initially opposed to the idea, Robles decided to give the camp a shot.
One camp turned into several camps and Robles realized the directions he was given to kids and seeing what it meant to them, reignited his passion for the game.
After nearly three years in Sacramento, the Robleses decided to move to the Northern Nevada area with Andrew looking to continue coaching soccer.
Connections from Sacramento and from his personal soccer background brought opportunities for the now 29-year-old.
Robles realized he had an opportunity to develop a community of soccer players in an area that has talent, but needed more development.
Turning a passion into a community business
Even before completing his first year with Douglas High, Robles had started to calculate what it would take to start his own soccer organization in the area.
Now the owner and founder of Let’s Kick It, which started in Sacramento, Robles is constantly looking for ways to develop kids around the area while also making sure those same kids are putting their interests in the right places.
It’s also no longer just Andrew and Allison, now the husband and wife have two daughters, Ava (age 3) and Aubrey (1).
The growth of his own family has pushed the soccer star-turned-coach to build a community he didn’t have growing up.
Robles has continued setting up youth clinics through Let’s Kick It, while also working with Reno 1868 and teaching the high school level ranks.
With a reinvigorated passion for the sport, Robles has taken steps even beyond coaching, collecting used soccer cleats that can still be worn to donate to orphanages in Mexico.
The 29-year-old has collected over 500 pairs of cleats since 2014 and takes an annual trip to Mexico to donate them.
Robles will readily acknowledge soccer saved his life and gave him a chance at something more.
Now, he’s hoping he can build a community in Northern Nevada that will grow to love the sport as much as he does.