Destinney Duron’s childhood dream was realized in December.
Duron recently signed with Club America in Mexico City to play professional soccer. Her dream officially became reality on Dec. 30 when she inked her name into Club America history.
“It was always soccer, soccer, soccer throughout my whole life since I was like four-and-a-half,” she said.
She comes from a soccer family. Her father, Rolando, coached her growing up and her sister, Priscilla, also played through junior college. If no one had a match on any given day, then the Women’s National Team was on the television.
Duron was a versatile player from a young age. She was able to switch between defender and forward, even scoring both of Hart’s goals in a CIF-Southern Section final during her senior year.
“I had the pleasure to work with her for one year at Hart for her senior year,” said Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch. “She was a very dominant player. She was just so gifted that I played her more as a forward in high school.”
She may have been dangerous from any position on the pitch, but she is the biggest threat as a throw-in specialist.
“I’ve never seen anybody throw the ball like her,” Mitrovitch said. “It’s the farthest throw I’ve ever seen. It was a very good weapon.”
Mitrovitch coached Duron during her final campaign with the Indians. He was also her coach during her brief stint on the Santa Clarita Blue Heat FC team that was the 2016 National Champion.
Duron got her in with Club America through a friend in Paramount, Liz Lyons. She trained with Lyons for months before Lyons left for Mexico City. During that time, Duron had mentioned she wanted to go pro, too.
Lyons told her to keep training and her chance would come. Duron began working with her own trainer, Erick Zarate.
“He took me under his wing. He helped me get to where I needed to be for my first tryout,” Duron said. “My first tryout ended up coming really fast.”
She underwent a rigorous training schedule that changed her life into almost pure work for several months. Duron would wake up at 4 a.m. to go for a run, then immediately head to her trainer for her session which started at 5 a.m. She also had to leave her family in Santa Clarita to move to Paramount so she could focus purely on soccer.
“It was a big sacrifice I knew I had to take,” Duron said. “I basically knew what I had to do if I wanted to become a professional. I knew I had to make sacrifices. It wasn’t easy.”
After months of training, Duron traveled to Mexico City to train with the team for a week as it prepared for the Liga MX final. At the end of the week, the club’s manager approached Duron to tell her the team was interested in signing her.
She had the fortune of sharing that special moment with her father, someone who was there for her every step of the way to the most defining moment of her careers so far.
Despite achieving her dream now, Duron wasn’t always sure she was going to make it to the professional level. She tore her ACL during her sophomore year at Hart and sat out her junior year in order to recover.
“When I tore my first ACL was when I was starting to get a little worried, especially about my future and how I was going to play afterward,” she said.
She returned to the Hart girls soccer team for her senior season better than ever. Fighting through the doubt of her injury, she secured a scholarship to play at California State University, Northridge, taking another step closer to her dream.
Disaster struck once again in her sophomore year as Duron tore her ACL a second time. She received a medical redshirt and sat out for her junior year.
“My second ACL was my worst one,” she said. “I was a little bit nervous if I was going to come back the same the second time. I was starting to get doubts, but I still knew that soccer was the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
She spent her junior year recovering and getting stronger. She became more conscious about how she moved her body and changed her game in order to avoid another injury. By the time her redshirt-junior season rolled around, she was ready to play again.
“She’s a warrior,” Mitrovitch said. “You just don’t see people having two ACLs and coming back and playing at that level. It’s very impressive.”
Duron has been through enough adversity to make the average person quit playing, but she’s no average person. She fought through hardship and worked her way up to the professional level.
“What basically kept me going was to not waste my time,” she said. “What sticks to me is someone saying, ‘I better see you on TV one day. I better see you playing.’ It’s kept me going every single day until now.”
Duron’s hard work and determination finally paid off when she got her debut on the pitch for Club America on Jan. 6.
“As bad as it sounds, I’m actually happy I went through both ACLs,” Duron said as she fought back tears. “It definitely shaped me into the person I am today. It feels so accomplishing and unreal, especially to come back from two. One was hard.”
Her first match is now behind her and she has had plenty of practices and other matches since then, but Jan. 6 will always stand as a benchmark of success in her career.
“I played very well,” she said. “I was a bit nervous because I knew I had a lot to prove but I did very well in my first game with the team.”
Now that she has spent more time with the team and played in a few games, the nerves have become more manageable and the game has become second nature once again.
“They’ve gone down a lot,” Duron said. “Especially with practices too and starting to talk to the girls a lot more and getting more chemistry it’s gotten a lot easier. Last game I was a bit nervous because I haven’t started yet. There’s definitely a bit of nerves but it’s gotten a lot easier.”
Now that she is a professional player, Duron has begun to build her own fanbase too.
“It kind of motivates you. You see people looking up to you,” she said.
Just like her abilities on the pitch, her fans come on a wide spectrum, from the inspired to the hopeful. One fan messaged Duron on Instagram to thank her. According to the fan, she showed young girls that no dream is unachievable as long as they work for it.
Duron has also built a fanbase of young boys that live on the street in Mexico City. Every day on her way to practice she walks by them with her teammates while they play soccer in the street.
One day, Duron and her teammates decided to stop and play a quick game with the boys, an act like that gained her new lifelong fans and gave her something to feel good about when she sees them every day.
“The looks on their faces,” she said. “They call us ‘amigas,’ their friends. That helps me get through my days. Why I am here is not just for me.”
It’s for the girls around the country who have big dreams of their own. It’s for the young boys playing soccer on the streets. Most importantly, it’s for the 4-year-old girl who sat next to her father watching the Women’s National Team all those years ago.
“(I’m) amazed that I did it, that I was able to accomplish it,” Duron said. “Just a little girl with a dream. It finally came true.”