Football is an obvious obsession in American culture and outside of that, fútbol is the obsession around the world. Southern Nazarene’s Carlos Anguiano didn’t know that one passion in soccer would lend way to another in football and from there his life would change in a way he never could have dreamed.
When Anguiano steps out onto the field at the SNU Football Stadium for the final time in the 2018 season, the senior from Barcelona will have plenty to reflect on in his journey to Bethany. He also has just as much to look forward to. But the journey that has taken place the last six years since leaving all he’s ever known, has been one that has shaped his life forever.
When Anguiano was heading into his junior year of high school in Barcelona, his father wanted his son to learn English. He signed Carlos up for a one-year exchange program in the United States. Anguiano was chosen by a family in Ashdown, Arkansas, a town that hovers around 4,500 residents. A stark comparison to the 1.61 million in Barcelona. The difference in size wasn’t going to be the only cultural shock for Anguiano as he was leaving a metropolis known for its liberal political beliefs. He was stepping into a rural community steeped in the Bible Belt.
“I didn’t know where Arkansas was,” said Anguiano. “It was a huge change, but I was very lucky to be with the family I was. They were awesome.”
One of the first things that Anguiano noticed after taking everything in was, that the small high school, that had a 467 enrollment from 9-12th grade, didn’t have the sport Anguiano grew up playing which was soccer. The family Anguiano lived with, had a son that was his age and he played football for Ashdown High.
“My American parents said you’re going to have to go with him to practice no matter what,” said Anguiano. “Why don’t you just try to play football and be the kicker and see if you like it. I had played soccer since I was six and I didn’t realize how much the transition from soccer to football would help.”
Success came quick for Anguiano on the gridiron, but Anguiano didn’t grasp how talented he actually was. He recalled a time early in the season when he kicked a 53-yard field goal and the crowd erupted. It was a school-record and the fourth longest in conference history.
“I really didn’t understand what I did,” Anguiano chuckled. “I just kept getting better each week and eventually people started telling me I had a chance to play college football.”
Anguiano finished out his junior year and started to ponder the thought of going after a scholarship in football as a kicker, but the roadblocks started to appear. The first was trying to convince his parents to stay one more year and chase a budding dream. The exchange program he was in was also only designed for one year so he had to petition both his parents and the program for an additional year. Anguiano had the support of his American family, but he ran into another roadblock with the Arkansas High Schools Activity Association, which does not allow exchange students to compete in consecutive years outside of a few caveats that Anguiano did not meet.
That meant Anguiano not only had to transfer to Trinity Christian in Texarkana because of the exchange program with Ashdown High, but he also was not able to play football his senior year. The now senior was a bit miffed as what to do next. Anguiano was without what most high school players have. Plenty of access to coaches and film in helping reach the next level.
Anguiano, who didn’t have a car and wasn’t at the same high school as his American brother, rode a bike three miles to school and back each day. He would practice kicking between 1-2 hours and then would go to the gym and work out. He then hopped back on the bike and headed home.
Anguiano started making a video to put on YouTube to send to recruiters. He says he felt like he sent 600 emails to anyone who might have interest. Most could tell he was talented enough, but they couldn’t offer much money because they couldn’t trust a kicker who has only played one year.
In December of that year, Anguiano attended the Kohl’s Kicking Camp and stood out. He took second in field goals and third in kickoffs against plenty of other Division I level kickers. Anguiano added the stats he accumulated from the camp with the video and set off to emailing the same recruiters. Again though, he got much of the same response.
“My parents weren’t real happy and were not going to pay quite a bit of money to go to an American school when I could go to one in Barcelona for free,” said Anguiano. “I had to get a scholarship. Those four months from November to February were the toughest ones.
“You put so much effort into what you’re doing and you’re doing it by yourself,” said Anguiano. “I just wasn’t getting what I wanted and I felt like I’ve been doing all this for a year and a half for nothing.”
It was at this time that Anguiano began to search for something outside of football.
In his home in Barcelona, and in the city in general, religion is not part of the building blocks of daily life. However in the southwestern part of Arkansas, faith carries a lot of weight. Anguiano’s parents are both veterinarians in Barcelona and hold scientific research high.
“Religion is not something that is talked about among my family and friends,” said Anguiano. “It is seen as unscientific and man made. It’s for the uneducated who are scared to die.”
Obviously Anguiano was skeptical of faith when he arrived in Ashdown. His American family did go to church and Anguiano was starting to ask questions in his classes at Trinity.
“There was a professor who explained religion in a way that made sense to me,” said Anguiano. “For me to become a Christian I needed something more than just Jesus died for me and he loves me. I love to read and gather information. I needed facts.”
The professor introduced Anguiano to an apologist author and Anguiano slowly started to discover what Christianity was about. He started to see the strong arguments to be made about faith and the evidence of God’s hand in all of it.
There was Anguiano. Thousands of miles from home and hoping for something that two years previous he had no clue existed, not just in football, but in faith.
“I was praying to something I didn’t know,” said Anguiano. “I was just so desperate. I was thinking there was no way I was going to get this. Just all of the evidence was clear after reading and studying and that’s when I started to build my relationship with God.”
Then came an offer from a small private Christian school in the Oklahoma City metro area. Former SNU coach Billy Sexton began to reach out and chat with Anguiano. Sexton and Anguiano began to build a relationship and negotiate terms of a scholarship. It didn’t take long before Anguiano arrived in Bethany.
There was already a coaching change on the horizon as SNU was starting to navigate the territory of NCAA Division II. Anguiano started immediately as a place-kicker. He even helped the Crimson Storm end a 32-game skid when he drilled a 35-yard kick into a stiff wind to force overtime against Oklahoma Baptist. He also drilled the point after attempt to give SNU a 7-point lead in overtime.
“I always got pretty nervous before a field goal or kickoff,” said Anguiano. “For some reason, that was a kick that I wasn’t nervous about. There was such a peace.”
Anguiano has already left an imprint on the record books at SNU. Heading into the 2018 season, he moved into the top 10 all-time in school history in scoring in his three years in the program. He currently has 103 points in 58 successful point after attempts and 15 field goals. He stands fourth all-time in school history in PATs made He’s also third all-time in field goals made.
The business and pre-law major is no slouch in the classroom either. He touted a 3.72 GPA through his junior year and looks forward to law school and a dream of business and commercial law in a large city. His LSAT score is in the top 30 percent in the nation so the path is starting to get paved, but his faith and four years at SNU may go unmatched.
“I am so involved in so much outside of football and that wasn’t the case my freshman year,” said Anguiano. “I was an ok student up until my sophomore and once I figure out I was heading towards law school, I have had a 4.0 since.”
Anguiano is the Executive Vice President for Finance for the SGA, President of the SNU School of Business Student Board, Founder and President of the SNU LSAT Prep Club, President of the SNU Law Club, and is a member of the Leadership Team of the SNU Ethics Club, Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business, Pi Sigma Alpha (the National Political Science Honor Society, and the Sigma Alpha Pi (National Society of Leadership and Success). He was also the Vice President of the SNU Multicultural Student Organization and a Resident Advisor as a junior.
“I’ve built so many connections with students and professors,” said Anguiano. “I feel I got the most I can out of my experience here at Southern Nazarene. I feel like so many student-athletes miss out on this type of experience and what this school offers. It is amazing.”
Words by : David Noblett
Photo Credit: Sydney Jones