Former Park City Red Wolves soccer player first to sign professional contract
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and Alex Jaimes knew he had to and seize it.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, just two months ago in a coffee shop in Tennessee. Jaimes was sitting across from Chattanooga Red Wolves President and General Manager Sean McDaniel when McDaniel said eight words that changed his life.
“We would like to offer you a contract.”
Just like that, Jaimes knew all of the years of struggle, all the extra hours of work and all the traveling were worth it. He was officially a professional soccer player with the Chattanooga Red Wolves, a League One team of the United Soccer League.
“I can’t even explain what that moment was like. It was the second day of a three-day tryout and they (Chattanooga Red Wolves) were already offering me a contract,” Jaimes said. “After everything I’d been through in life up to that point, it was an unbelievable moment. … I always dreamed what that moment would be like but it was better that I ever thought.”
It was a quick turnaround for Jaimes prior to being offered a professional contract.
In November, Jaimes had just finished his final season at Salt Lake Community College, helping lead the team to a top-10 national ranking, before foregoing the rest of his college career to play for the Park City Red Wolves, a farm team for the Chattanooga squad.
“I had some eligibility issues regarding my amateur status but instead of waiting for that to be figured out, I heard about Park City and decided to give it a shot,” Jaimes said. “At this point I was being told that I was talented enough to play at the next level, and I already had my associates degree, so I went for it.”
Jaimes was only with Park City for 12 days before getting the opportunity in Chattanooga. He participated in three scrimmages with Park City, after which Martin sent film to Chattanooga, and it was time for Jaimes to move on.
A huge driving force in Jaimes’ young career is Bob Martino. Martino, founder of the Park City Red Wolves, was the one who originally convinced Jaimes to suit up. Jaimes is the first Park City Red Wolves player to sign a professional contract.
“Bob changed my life, he changed my family’s life because he opened up so many opportunities for me that changed everything for us,” Jaimes said. “He always told me to put the work in. … That if I put the work in, he would then put the work in that would help get me to the next level.”
Where Jaimes is at right now is special considering he didn’t begin to take soccer seriously until the age of 16. Unlike most kids where he grew up, Jaimes chose to work early on in his life to help support his mother following his parents’ divorce. Soccer was an escape.
“I never saw myself playing soccer as a career, more so used it as a way to relieve stress and get away from the hard stuff I had going on growing up,” Jaimes said. “My parents divorced when I was 5 or 6, so after my dad left I did whatever I could to really help my mom out and make things easier on her.”
But while playing for Hunter High School and club teams Fusion and Comba FC, Jaimes not only developed a love for the game, he started to realize how talented he was. After being name a two-time all-state player in high school, Jaimes went to Salt Lake Community College, leading the team to a Scenic West Athletic conference championship.
“Those are some of my best soccer memories, winning the conference championship in our first season,” Jaimes said. “It was so awesome to be able to do that, that it really set the stage for the work I would later put into my game.”
More memories are expected as Jaimes, just 21, continues on a journey that he never thought possible.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly cited Bob Martin, rather than Bob Martino, as an influence on Jaimes’ career.
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