MARYSVILLE — Two things brought senior Sebastian Navarro to Marysville-Pilchuck from his hometown of Yakima. His love for soccer and his disdain for drugs.
He has been around both most of his life. Drugs were around as far back as he can remember, including some of his friends and part of his family. Soccer was his escape.
It was “the Yakima way,” where young kids would turn to drugs and gangs. He is the youngest of three brothers who are still struggling with drug addictions.
He even opted for public transit over the school bus because drug dealers at his school would beat him up because his brothers owed them money.
He has a scar below his left eye from a brass knuckle after refusing to partake in drugs. But the scar just reminds him how far he’s come.
“Every day I wake up, and I see the scar,” he said.
Sebastian, nicknamed “Sea bass,” sought to break the cycle his brothers fell into.
“I made a promise to my mom when I was eight that I would go to a university and not do drugs,” he said. “So being over here and getting looks from universities and being able to succeed, I’m living up to my mom’s promise.”
What drew the line for Sebastian was when one of his brothers was in-and-out of rehab, and his grades were declining as a sophomore.
Sebastian started to break the cycle by commuting from Yakima to Redmond so he could practice with Seattle’s Premier League. His promise is what kept him sane through his commute. “I need to succeed,” he said. “That’s what kept me going.”
He came to Marysville after meeting teammate Kole Bradley-Kuk through the premier league. Bradley-Kuk played for M-P.
The two grew as friends, and what started with lunches with Bradley-Kuk’s family eventually saw Sebastian moving in.
“If a kid wants to better himself, of course you would let him in,” said Bradley-Kuk’s mother, Kam. “He never skipped a beat, and he never had to earn anything to live with us.”
“I’ve kept my grades up, and been training every day for soccer,” he said, adding he’s been getting looks from colleges.
After playing football for the first time this year for M-P and excelling as a kicker, Sebastian wants to play both football and soccer in college. He may get the chance at the University of Las Vegas. He plans to major in criminal justice and minor in psychology and work for the FBI some day.
“Since I was young, I knew how bad it felt when my older brothers got into drugs. I want to try and get other older brothers in check and help people” by working in law enforcement, he said.
Along with soccer, Sebastian and Kole enjoy “manly things” like fishing and shooting guns with Bradley-Kuk’s dad, Jeff.
“They’re treating me like I’m their son,” Sebastian said.
“It’s cool,” Bradley-Kuk said. “It’s like having your best friend in the house all the time.”
“It’s also good because we push each other academically and physically, and that’s just a good presence around the house,” he added. “Our good qualities rub off on each other.”
Sebastian started playing soccer at age 4, and it shows. He had four goals playing midfield, but then was moved to forward and scored four goals in one game. He has nine goals and five assists.
He can do it all, soccer coach Paul Bartley said. “He’s the best well-rounded soccer player I’ve seen in the four years I’ve coached. He’s definitely the full package. He can play defense, score and assist.”
His teammates also hold him in high-esteem.
“It’s a privilege to be playing with Sebastian,” junior teammate Cristian Correa-Avila said. “It’s not every day to be playing with a guy like him.”
Correa-Avila admires Sebastian’s durability and leadership skills, but also that he has done so well for himself.
“I’m privileged in that I didn’t have to go through what he went through,” Correa-Avila added. “The fact he’s doing so well is inspiring.”
Freshman Daniel Amador had similar sentiments.
“On the field, he’s a great leader,” Amador said. “When we’re losing he’ll still keep his head up all the time.”
Bartley continued: “He makes the other people around him play better. While the other team is worrying about him it allows other people to step up and make runs.”
Sebastian’s powerful leg in soccer also helped him stand out in football. His consistent deep kickoffs often backed up opponents to their own 20-yard line. He consistently made extra points and field goals, booting one even in the state semifinal playoff game against Bellevue. He boasted of making a 60-yard field goal in practice.
“He had a very strong leg and did really good things for us defensively,” football coach Brandon Carson said. “He had great range.”
Though naturally a strong kicker with little training, Sebastian can play at the next level if he touches up his fundamental skills, Carson said.
But above his academic and athletic achievements, Sebastian is a survivor.
As a soccer captain he stresses, the family aspect and “leading by example.”
“Before the game, I give them all hugs,” Sebastian said. “If we’re going to be good we have to play as family.”
Though living away in Marysville, Sebastian still keeps in touch with his biological family.
“Even though my family is messed up with drugs, I will do anything for my family,” he said.