Updated: Sep 20
Belmont senior soccer player Esteban Lestido is working on a lifelong dream.
Kicking his first ball at the age of 2, joining his first team as a 4-year-old and still playing with passion, Lestido is wrapping up his time as a midfield defender for the Bruins. After his December 2021 graduation, the dream is to play for a professional club team, either in the States or Europe.
But getting there requires sacrifices.
Staying committed to the sport means putting your body through tough workouts, creating time for recovery and missing out on social gatherings with friends because of early practices, overtime games or clashing priorities.
One might wonder what makes it worthwhile; for Lestido, it comes down to family.
Lestido’s biggest inspiration “100% would be my family, my parents, including my sister. They have been there every step of the way, regardless of my journey in soccer,” he said.
Lestido grew up in Florida, but with parents from Argentina, he was surrounded by soccer from an early age, as both his father and older sister played the sport.
His mom would drive him to practice every day — an hour there and an hour home — while his dad took on the role of his “biggest critic” and motivator, Lestido said, both on the sidelines and the home front.
The group effort eventually led to one of Lestido’s fondest soccer memories, which took place during a summer in Argentina surrounded by extended family.
His cousin played in a club that let Lestido try out. They liked what they saw and wanted to sign him, but unfortunately, he never got the opportunity due to paperwork technicalities.
Despite the setback, the future Bruin drew valuable experiences from the situation. “Spending two weeks of training at a really big club in Argentina, really showcasing myself and just having a really good time in a different environment” made a positive impact, Lestido said.
“It just kind of kept pushing me to say ‘no, this is the right path’ … this is what I really want to do, is to keep playing soccer.”
The memory holds motivation that makes him work even harder to become the best athlete he can be.
Another time to remember is the fall of 2019, he said, this time with a different type of family — the men’s soccer team at Belmont.
Lestido said it felt like they were heading in the right direction, making it to semifinal play in the Southern Conference Tournament with a new coaching staff and strong additions to the team.
The feeling of family Lestido picked up among the Bruins on his first visit is what ultimately made him commit to Belmont and, considering his leadership role on the team, he aspires to bring that same feeling to the next generation of soccer players by holding them to the expectations student-athletes carry.
Certain standards off the field, like following COVID-19 safety guidelines and leading by example in the classroom, are part of that duty.
With or without the uniform on, number seven is printed on Lestido’s back, and he makes sure others on the team don’t forget the responsibility that comes with their numbers, either.
“At the end of the day, like I said, these people are your family. You want to make sure that we do the right thing at the right time and take care of people” Lestido said.
The fact that Lestido has belonged to a team for most of his life will work in his favor as he pursues his finance and business systems and analytics education.
But not until he reaches his lifelong soccer dream, supported by one family in the stands and joined by another on the field.
“I think that the sacrifices I make now will give me the opportunity to create more memories,” Lestido said.
This article was written by Jessica Mattsson. Photo by Tyra Finkeldey.