“It’s bigger than just the game itself.”
Benje Orozco has been a part of the Salem soccer community since 1995. After graduating high school, he traveled back and forth between Mexico and United States to pursue his dreams of being a professional soccer player. While working in a local restaurant for Ignacio Baez, whom he met while living in Tigard, OR, Benje relied on Ignacio’s connections to get his foot in the door with a professional team. After a heartbreaking ACL tear at 20 years old, Benje came to Salem to recover and play with the Cascade Surge (Salem’s USISL Pro League team at the time) under Ignacio as the head coach.
“Since coming to Salem I’ve been involved with CFC, through connections and what not, that’s just where everyone played! I’ve played and trained here with the Cascade Surge, now my kids play and train here as well.”
In 2004, Benje started getting more personally invested with CFC (Salem United at the time) by volunteering with his oldest son’s team. As his son grew, his involvement in coaching grew. His involvement continued to grow even more as his family grew. Now, a father of six, Benje is not only involved with coaching his kids’ teams, but is now CFC’s Board President.
Benje has big dreams for CFC. Past President’s and current/past board members have laid a solid foundation, but he believes there is still a lot to be done and supports the mission of the club. “There is a big responsibility in continuing to get work done to date.” He loves being able to watch kids grow and mature, moving from playing together, to breaking off to various high schools, then make the transition into college. Whether playing locally for Willamette U. or Corban U., or venturing out of state, the most rewarding thing of being involved with CFC is watching this growth. He truly believes that soccer is something that has a bigger impact on our community than just the game itself.
“Soccer is a tool to get kids into school, and to become good citizens of the community they’re involved in. The responsibility we have to our community is to help kids pursue their dreams and transition to being role models and good citizens of their communities. By coaching and being involved with CFC, my and my family’s lives have been blessed.”
“Soccer is a language we can all speak.”
Vicky Cruz is a Salem local who has been involved with CFC since she was 17 years old. She started playing soccer at age 13 while playing through high school, then played two years with Chemeketa before launching her career on the Women’s Mexican National team.
“I remember my coach with CFC telling me ‘you are so good like Mari-Gol (a Mexican women pro player), you can become a professional’ and I kind of blew it off and didn’t think anything of it.”
However, a passion for soccer changed within her.
Vicky’s brothers were heading to tryout for the Pro Mexico Men’s team (Pachuca) and she decided to join. She was the only girl on the field. By the seventh tryout, a recruiting coach came over and asked for her information stating, “Come play for Mexico’s Women National Team with coach Leonardo Cuellar”. Within a week, she got a call from Cuellar, and two days later, she was on a plane, headed to Mexico, where she was set to practice with the National Team.
While training, Vicky got moved from the older, main team, to the U20’s team. It wasn’t until their first practice that she realized that this 20’s team was going to the World Cup in Germany in 2010. She had made the team.
In Germany, Vicky was able to play with the U20 Mexican National team representing Mexico in the World Cup. Her favorite part of the whole experience was when she stepped onto the field against Nigeria, where she helped assist to a goal that gave the team the pass to play in the Quarter Finals! What a game.
Post her professional soccer career, Vicky has since played at WOU, graduating in 2017 with a degree in Social Sciences while minoring in Psychology. She is now the head coach of the 05 Girls team, an assistant director for Coerver Coaching, as well as the new Director of the Juniors program here at CFC.
If it wasn’t for her CFC coach Ricky Camarena, and the support she had from her family and parents Juan and Rosa, Vicky would have never made it to the World Cup.
Vicky believes that soccer is a “language we can all speak”. Being able to make an impact in many different ways by meeting new people of all kinds, and becoming one as a whole, speaks volumes about the sport itself. She coaches because she loves working with people, loves the kids, and loves the game.
“It’s a gift, It’s my passion.”