Oscar Flores is going through one of the biggest challenges of his soccer life right now. He’s on the mend from an injury in spring ball with the Oregon State Beavers. He’s back on his feet and in his boots now. He’s even planning ahead to 2014, when he will return to Washington and suit up for FC Three Rivers Tri-Cities in the debut season of the Evergreen Premier League. Flores isn’t just any player, either. His resume includes scoring the most high school goals in Oregon history. goalWA.net wanted to meet the guy who scored 74 goals his senior year in high school.
CORVALLIS, OR — “My youth soccer years in Walla Walla at the BMSC Earthquake, were some of my best soccer years of my life,” Oscar Flores tells goalWA.net via email, from the Oregon State campus in Corvallis. “The players on the club team became like brothers to me, and if it wasn’t for the coaching staff and teammates I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now. Frank Skarina ( The head coach of the Walla Walla Select team) was the first that noticed my playing ability, which was in a friendly game with my U12 select team from Milton-Freewater vs. the Walla Walla U12 select team. My parents didn’t have the time to take me to Walla Walla every other day to practice so Frank Skarina would go out of his way and pick me up and drop me off every practice, just so I could be on the Walla Walla team. Which really means a lot to me, even to this day I’m thankful of that because club really helped me mature as a soccer player.”
Oscar’s select experience in Walla Walla then jumped into hyperdrive. “Especially when Mike Washington (Whitman’s Head Coach) started to run a couple practices and eventually became coach of the Blue Mountain Soccer Club Earthquakes,” Oscar reveals. “I’ve always been a forward from day one, even when I would play 5v5 as a kid my father never liked the coach to put me in as a back. My father saw that I had a finishing talent and from day one he wanted me to work on that and become the best forward I could be. I was leading scorer for the club for many years and captain for the last two. With the help of Mike Washington, I became a better forward and got a heads up/idea of how college soccer was going to be played. He helped me keep my head on and off of the pitch as he would do grade checks and I would practice sending college recruit letters to him, and he would give me feedback on how I could improve the letter and put myself in a better recruiting position. As a kid I grew up seeing Whitman play and I told Mike I would like to play for him…but there were no hard feelings as Mike wanted the best for us and when other offers started to come in from higher division schools he understood. My senior year I played for a Three Rivers team where we won the state cup, then went to regionals in Boise.”
Flores was able to participate in high school soccer, via the McLoughlin High Pioneers in Milton-Freewater. The chance to do so gave him the opportunity to showcase his forward skills and put up some record numbers. “High school was a great experience for me. I grew up playing with a lot of guys on the team all my life, so when we would go out and play other teams we would know each other very well. I believe that was a big part of the reason in why I was so successful in scoring all those goals in high school. They knew where I wanted the ball, when I wanted the ball, and when I got the ball I took advantage of my opportunities, which is what every forward wants to accomplish. I never got my title with my high school, but we finished second in state my junior year. I was team captain and had a good junior year scoring 43 goals. My performance in high school earned me many honors, to including being named the #1 Junior and Senior in Oregon by ESPN RISE. I was also name the Oregon Class 4A Player of the Year, All State and All League first team honors, Eastern Oregon 1st team All- State, and All-American honorable mention.”
All of the buzz created as a junior of course set expectations high for his senior season, for both Oscar and his school team. He looks back at that time fondly. “My senior year was a special year; our team was ranked number one in the state. We finished the season 17-1 as I finished with 74 goals in the season. I later found out from ESPN Rise that I broke the single season scoring record in Oregon which had stood for 27 years and now hold a spot nationally as well. I was also one of the six nominees for the National High School Coaches Association and GTM Sportswear October Athlete of the Month Award.
Recruiters notice such outrageous scoring numbers, and Flores was hearing about it. He even heard from across the US border. “Throughout my high school and club years I was talking to various schools like UC Irvine, New Mexico, Oregon State, University of Portland, UCSB, University of Dayton, many local CC’s like Walla Walla CC, Chemeketa, Clark, Many D3 schools like Whitman, and D2 schools Like Cal State schools. I went to many official visits and got to see the environment from every level from UC Irvine, UofP, Dayton D1 schools to CC’s like Walla Walla Community College, Columbia basin College in Tri-Cities, and staying local. But the most unexpected opportunity that I received was a trial with the Mexican professional U20 club team in Tijuana Mexico (Club Xoloitzcuintles).”
Not sure about college, Flores decided to go to Mexico and see what might happen. “I didn’t end up signing with anybody and decided to take this opportunity on. Piolin Sotelo, a very famous Mexican radio personality with a very famous radio show “Piolin por la manana,” was the one who showed my youtube video to the team in Tijuana and put a good word in for me. He brought me into Los Angeles to talk about my soccer career on national radio and connected me with the Tijuana head Coach, who was going to give me a month trial to make the squad. After living in Tijuana and practicing and playing day in and day out it was a very learning experience and I did what I did best and scored against the youth team of Atlas and other teams. I earned my spot on the team after my trial was over.”
The good start in Tijuana turned into an offer. “After the month they liked how performed over my trial and offered me a contract to stay and play with the youth team of Tijuana. At the time I was stoked and thankful of the opportunity,” Flores recalls. Then he got a request. “The club asked me to return to the states and get my dual citizenship so I wouldn’t get categorized as a foreign player (as both my parents are from Mexico.) When I returned to LA I thought about the opportunity and then I thought about it again. I wanted to make the right decision not only for me but for my future family. I knew that at that level if you got hurt or your game just dropped there was somebody right there ready to take your spot and the team could drop you right there and then—no questions asked. But then again I told myself ‘this could be a one and only opportunity,‘ and I felt like I really fit in the team and could maybe someday jump to the first team if everything went well. At the end of the day I felt that the right decision was to not sign with Club Tijuana.”
One decision had a ripple effect on another, though. Saying no in Mexico did not automatically mean a “yes” back in an American college. ” It was to late to play D1 as they were already in season pretty much. So I called George Kuntz from UC Irvine, who said he would pick me up after the fall if I would to play with Mt. Sac, which was the power house in CC’s with three straight national titles. So I went there and practiced with them and was about to sign with them but for some reason my CRN codes did not process correctly. It threw the system and since I had just gotten back from Tijunana I was not able to play because the classes were full. So George called Chivas Academy and I was going to play with them throughout the year but that would defeat the purpose of me coming back because I wanted to go to get an education while playing soccer. So then I got a call from Cal State San Bernardino and they said they would get me enrolled right away and offered me a spot on the squad. I earned my starting spot as a freshman, scored some goals and then touched base with Oregon State, as I was looking to come back and play for my home state. They brought me in at the end of my freshman year and have been here since then.”
Now with the Beavers, Flores has yet to be able to show his high school age potential. “It’s been a bit unlucky,” he tells goalWA.net. “I broke my foot in the spring right before a double header versus the University of Portland and Washington. I was about to cap some good minutes in as I thought I was doing very well in the spring. I was playing with the A team already, ready to showcase, when out of nowhere I heard a pop when I tried to put a through ball in to Khiry Shelton. At first I thought it wasn’t too bad. I went out for a couple minutes, saw the trainer. It hurt but I really wanted to play that weekend so when I got the call from coach Simmons to see if I was ready to go back in I tried to toughen up. I laced my shoe back on and tried to jog back to to the field but there was no way…I could barely even step on it. They took me back into the training room where the doctor took x-rays right away and that is where he told me I had broken my fifth metatarsal and would have to get surgery ASAP.”
Oscar’s career was again in flux. “I was out all summer as PDL plans went down the drain and really my first practice was when I returned to Oregon State for preseason. You can only imagine how much condition I lost due to the injury. Little by little I picked it up and also adjusted my game. But early in the season I told the coaches I didn’t feel 100 percent still and we made a conscious decision and decided I was going to redshirt this year leaving me with two eligible years to compete at the collegiate level. The experience at Oregon State I believe really trains you to make that next jump to the next level. The facilities are amazing, the competition is there, playing in one of the best leagues in the nation, and not to mention they televise at least 6 games in the Pac12 network. It’s a great experience, that’s why we’re always giving it our best trying to make each other better as we know that there are others who would kill to have our spots.”
Oscar is playing again, though his redshirt status means he won’t appear in Pac-12 matches until next season. “I was out for a little more than three months. I’m playing again now and feeling like things are back to normal, but you always have to be cautious about these kind of injuries and not rush things. I’m training hard right now, ready to score goals and hopefully help FC Three Rivers and OSU accomplish big things in the near future.”
The Evergreen Premier League will be the place that Flores tunes up for his junior year with the Beavers. “Max Weber invited me to play for the club, told me it was going to be a semi-pro league playing teams from all over the state of Washinton, like Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, Wanatchee, etc.,” Oscar explains.
“I’m joining because I would like to represent the area where I’m from. It also gives me a chance to spend some time with family and friends over the summer. I was going to play Premier Development League (PDL) this past summer with the North Sound SeaWolves and have been asked to play with some PDL teams this next summer, but I think the EPLWA will also be competitive and help me get ready for the 2014 season and game ready for the PAC-12.”