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Samantha Valadez

Samantha Valadez finds home on Salvadoran national team

Mother's assist helps Samantha Valadez catch El Salvador's attention

School. Eat. Football. This has been the schedule for Samantha Valadez for as long as she can remember. After school or work, the Valadez family would grab a quick bite to eat and then rush to soccer practice. 

Valadez, a Kingwood, Texas, native is the youngest of three daughters. She was always kicking a soccer ball on the side of a field while her older sisters Vanessa and Caroline were practicing and until she was old enough to practice. 

Now she is on the pitch representing the Salvadoran Women’s National team. Valadez represented her mother Gladys Valadez’s country during the recent group stage of the In the inaugural CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup tournament. The 20-year-old goalkeeper received her second promotion to the national squad.

She first played with the Salvadoran national team at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. El Salvador won the bronze medal in those games. Samantha Valadez was back at home in Houston during the group stage of the Women’s Gold Cup this month.

Samantha Valadez soaks in opportunity  

As she stepped on the Shell Energy Stadium pitch for warm-ups, Valadez glanced at the El Salvador abbreviations on her kit. Taking a deep breath, she stared at the stands to soak in the moment. As she realized how far her talent had taken her, she couldn’t help but to silently thank her parents for making her dreams a reality. 

“I was just in shock,” Valadez said. “I’ve always wanted to be at this level. And I honestly never thought that I would be there. It made me it a little emotional because I knew I was representing my mom and the country. I’m just really honored and excited.”

The 5-foot-8 junior at San Antonio’s Our Lady of the Lake University always knew she wanted to play at the highest level for club and country. To make it a reality, she received an assist from her mother, Gladys. 


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While her mother Gladys visited her homeland a few years ago, she stopped at the training facility for El Salvador’s national soccer teams. Gladys Valadez attended an open practice. After the practice concluded the elder Valadez did not leave before seizing the coach’s attention. 

Without Samantha’s knowledge, Valadez persuaded the coach to give her daughter a chance to try out for the national team. Valadez sent the coach her highlight reel, along with her information. Not wanting to get her hopes up, Samantha Valadez tried to focus solely on her school work and training at Our Lady of the Lake. 

In February 2023, Valadez was on her way to El Salvador for a camp with the Salvadoran national team. Samantha Valadez made the team as the backup goalkeeper. 

Grateful daughter

“I thank her tremendously because of that,” Samantha Valadez said of her mother. “I wouldn’t be there without her. She is someone who is like, ‘I want it, I am going to get it.’ And I think I turned out the same way.”

As grateful as she is because of her mother’s determination to watch her daughters succeed, she thanks her father Joe Valadez for showing her the love for futbol. Joe Valadez was raised in Zaragoza, Spain, where football is the national sport. He shared his knowledge of futbol with all three of his daughters. 

He coached all three goals for a time before they transitioned her to a club team. He would also share pointers as they sat and watched soccer games together on weekends. He surrounded Samantha Valadez with soccer, while also giving her the space to try other sports. 

However, Valadez and her father shared the same joy and appreciation for the sport. Joe and Gladys attended every one of their daughters’ games. They now make the three-hour drive from Kingwood to San Antonio to watch every Our Lady of the Lake home game. 

Fortunately enough, El Salvador played all three group stage games in Houston. Samantha was happy to have her parents in attendance at each game. 

Since Valadez has only been with the national team for nine months, playing time has been scarce. Valadez believes has been one of the hardest things to overcome.

“We are very proud,” Joe Valadez said. “I am not Salvadoran, but my wife is. When we were in El Salvador over the summer, I told my brothers and sisters I felt such tremendous pride.” 

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