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Saugus' Brian Perez: On the way to the top

Saugus junior Brian Perez embraces the high standard set for him in sports and all aspects of life

Posted: January 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus midfielder and third-year varsity player Brian Perez spent this past offseason rehabbing from a torn mesniscus in his left knee sustained last year. His usual routine included sit-ups, push-ups and running up Saugus High’s “S” hill to get back into shape over the summer.

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A lot is expected of student athletes these days.

They have to endure the year-round hours of training, conditioning and practicing for the athlete portion, all while keeping up in the classroom.

Based on that definition, Saugus junior Brian Perez has to be considered a model student athlete, and then some.
But the way Perez grew up, he always sees room to get better.

“I would not ask him to give me more if I knew that he couldn’t give it,” says his father, Joel. “So when I push him, it’s because I know he can do better.”

Brian is a third-year varsity soccer player and the attacking midfielder leads his team in scoring this season with nine goals.
His numbers in the classroom aren’t too shabby either, with a GPA around 3.9.

“That’s a little low for me,” Joel says.

And if Brian makes a mistake in a game, you better believe he’s going to hear about it at home.

Velia, Brian’s mother, video tapes all his games so he can send clips to colleges, but Brian also uses the film to work on his game.

He’s happy to receive all the help because at the end of the day, this is the game that has always meant so much to him.
“There’s no experience like high school, playing high school soccer, so it’s like once in a lifetime,” Brian says. “You get to play varsity soccer at Saugus. It’s pretty important to me.”

As high as the bar is set for him, Brian maintains a casual, nonchalant temperament about things.

When the workouts and the homework are done, Brian spends time with his family, playing guitar twice a week for his church while his mother sings.

The family often gets up at 7 a.m. on Saturday’s to watch English Premier League soccer.

To Brian, his family and his Christianity are paramount, so when his dad stressed to him the importance of staying in shape in the offseason, naturally, Brian obliged.

In the summer, he’d show up at Saugus High to do sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups outside of the gym. He’d run laps around the track and run up and down the hillside adjacent to the school, known as the “S” hill.

This past summer’s workouts weren’t all just to prepare for the season though. It was also part of his personal rehab from a knee injury.

Late last season, Brian tore a meniscus in his left knee, which later required surgery to repair.

The injury occurred during his first game back returning from a fractured toe that kept him out for six games.
Even with all the missed time, Brian still led the team in assists last year.

Freshman year, he worked his way from the frosh/soph team to junior varsity and eventually varsity during the CIF playoffs.

Knee surgery presented a possible roadblock to all his momentum built in his first two years.

“It was very hard for all of us. We didn’t expect that to happen so soon,” Joel says. “Actually, his club coach told me that he didn’t think (Brian) would come back to be the same player.”

In response, Brian and his family prayed.

Brian kept going back to the “S” hill and he stuck with his doctor-recommended rehab exercises.

By the time Saugus’ season kicked off, it was time to test out the newly-repaired knee.

“He was dying to get back on the field, and of course, we had to take it easy and go with the physical therapy and all that,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “But I just remember him lacing up his cleats for the first time when it was OK by his doctors, and just him moving around a little bit, you could see how excited he was.”

His faith and his hard work paid off, as Brian quickly established himself as one of the teams go-to scorers, boding well for him headed into senior year.

Brian has charged back with such a vengeance this year, Groller went as far to compare him to another former Saugus standout, Larry Guizar.

Guizar graduated in 2007 after being named the Foothill League’s most valuable player, scoring 20 goals and helping the 2006-07 Saugus team win its last league title.

That Centurions team advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division II semifinals, the furthest of any other Saugus team in school history.

“It’s not just his ability as a goal-scorer,” Groller says. “It’s also the way that he’s able to make the plays. He’s definitely our play maker.”

Since then, Saugus has hit a rough patch, finishing last in league a year ago and sitting at 1-4-1 and fifth place in Foothill play this year.

The team is in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season, which Brian takes personally.

“I just want to try to build up the soccer program again because we need to get more people to join the soccer team and give their all, everything they have and build the soccer program up to its highest level,” he says.

If Brian has anything to say about it, things will turn around, if not this season then the next.

Given what he’s already fought through, there’s little reason to doubt it.

Perhaps his club soccer coach was right about one thing.

Brian isn’t the same player he was before the surgery. Now he’s even better.

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