College Check-In: Julian Flores ’16, Member of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Men’s Soccer Team

After graduating from St. Stephen’s in 2016, Julian Flores matriculated to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he has played on the men’s soccer team.
What was your transition like going from high school to college?
Transitioning to life as a student athlete was not very difficult. St. Stephen's did a very good job at preparing me for being a college student-athlete because at times St. Stephen's was as difficult and as time consuming as some of my college classes. I learned how to manage my time at St. Stephen's rather than developing that skill in college and I believe that gave me an advantage over my peers.
What has been the most rewarding part about competing collegiately?
The most rewarding part about competing was giving back to communities. During my freshman year, my team traveled to Costa Rica, and we brought out many of the local kids to have a soccer camp to play in and it was one of the most amazing things. I spoke Spanish fluently growing up, but St. Stephen's Spanish classes with Señor Munoz and Señor Doig definitely helped develop my Spanish-speaking skills to where I was able to translate everything for my coach.
Do you have a favorite moment from your college career?
My favorite moment in competition was beating the U.S. Army West Point my senior year. I hadn't been a starter for the past three years and we were playing at Army in our first game of the season. It was my first start as an Air Force Academy soccer player. I had also invited my parents to fly out to the game, so it was a huge deal for me. We won the game 2-1 and I played the entire 90 minutes of the game. My coaches told me I was the MVP of the game and that I had the most important play of the game: In the last few minutes of the first half, I was dead tired and had to sprint back 60 yards to catch a guy who had made a run to the back post. I got there at the last second, when the ball had been crossed, and I was able to head the ball away. I was in tears after the game because it felt that the past three years of hard work and disappointment from being left out of the starting lineup time and time again had been all worth it.
What has been your biggest challenge transitioning to collegiate athletics?
The most challenging part about competing collegiately was learning my role on the team and accepting it. I was a practice player for three years at the Air Force Academy. Unfortunately, I spent the first two years complaining about it, thinking I was good enough to be starting or at least an impact substitution. My junior year I changed my mentality and controlled what I could control—my attitude, my effort and my mentality. Once I was able to control these things, I wasn't as concerned with soccer, and I was much happier. I also became the best practice player we had, and that was an important role for me to fill so that I could lead the team by example and rid the team of negative attitudes.
How did your St. Stephen’s experience help you in making the transition to being a student-athlete in college?
At St. Stephen's, the most important thing I learned was time management. I was able to smoothly transition into college life because of this. At St. Stephen's, I had many time commitments because I had a rigorous course load, I was part of the St. Stephen's Soccer Academy, and I was also a part of the USSF Developmental Academy at Lonestar Soccer Club. I would have class throughout the day, have practice or workouts during some of my off periods, would have Academy practice after school and then would walk down to my Lonestar practice that went from 8-10 p.m. To say the least, I had a very, very busy schedule. I needed to get work done during the day so that I could have time to sleep at night. I learned this lesson quickly after a few times of me not going to bed until a very late time.
What advice would you give high schoolers who are preparing to play collegiate athletics?
I was very lucky. I chose a school that I ended up really loving without considering the soccer aspect. My biggest advice is to be honest with your athletic skill set and use your athleticism to get yourself into a school that you might not have the academic prestige to have gotten in without athletics. There are some very impressive and academically prestigious Division III schools. I faced a lot of adversity at the Division I level that helped me grow a lot as a person.
Academically, did you feel prepared to take on college-level work?
Yes, I did.
Have you declared a major? If so, what are you studying?
I am studying electrical engineering and will graduate in May 2020.
Anything else you'd like to add about your college experience?
I have a much different college experience because I am attending a military academy. However, I'm excited to be in a class where I learn to jump out of planes next semester. I was able to do an internship at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), a company that specializes in protective relays for power grids. I get payed to go to school because I go to USAFA and I usually save up my money to go on a cool spring break trip with my friends. I've been to Italy, Netherlands, Ireland and England.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213