As we continue with our Alumni Spotlight project we turn our attention to the men's soccer pitch and focus on Hall of Fame player Javier Palazuelos. Javier is beyond grateful for everything Dickinson was able to offer him. From a chance to continue playing the sport he loved to building skills that have benefited him in his life beyond the limestone and brought him nothing but success both personally and professionally.
Javier grew up in Bolivia and didn't come to the United States until he was 17 years old. He came here to attend one year of high school in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania and was hosted by an American family that had befriended his family while they were living in Bolivia. "George and Connie were and are wonderful and amazing people," Javier said. "They are my American parents. They helped me get into high school and then Dickinson College."
You could say soccer was in Javier's blood from birth, as his father was a professional soccer player. "He even went as far as representing the country in the 50's," Javier stated. "That was when soccer was becoming more popular and moving from an amateur sport to a professional sport." However, what truly brought out the love of the game were the Sunday matches with his father, brothers, and his father's friends and their kids. These were the memories that Javier still cherishes and reflects back on.
During his one year in high school here in the states, Javier excelled both on the field and in the classroom, gaining attention from local colleges. "I was able to talk to the people at Dickinson with the idea of playing soccer while also receiving financial aid because I was a good student," Javier said. "But I also had the opportunity to go to the University of San Francisco where my father played and I was offered a scholarship so I had a choice to make." Eventually, it became a no brainer for Javier, who decided to attend a school [Dickinson] that he felt that he could excel at academically as well as play soccer and enjoy being a student-athlete.
Reflecting back on his time "Wearin' The Red" Javier recalls that, "it was a great experience being with teammates, who were also students and focused on their studies." Javier also remembers the talent the team had and likes to think, "we helped push the program to the next level because of the class we had. I had and have wonderful experiences and memories."
Javier also acknowledges that he and his teammates certainly needed guidance throughout their journey to help them achieve success and make the right decisions in life. "That balance is what we are all trying to achieve," Javier stated. "If we don't have a mentor or guide or even a role model we can really mess up our collegiate experience."
Off the field Javier found a passion for economics, thanks in large part to his professor, Michael Fratantuono. "He was a wonderful professor, who made me love economics," Javier said. "I was okay at math and physics but not gifted so I didn't think I was going to get in to economics. He made me love it and really challenge myself." He also found an interest in Environmental Studies and is adamant that a liberal arts college gave him the ability to study in different areas and learn about things you will need in the future. It all comes back to balance for Javier, who believes that having a balanced approach in your education is the best way to prepare for the challenges and experiences you will have in your professional career.
His legacy as a student-athlete still lives on at Dickinson as he was inducted into the Dickinson Athletics Hall of Fame. "It was very, very touching and an honor," Javier said. "I don't know if I deserved it because there were so many athletes who were just as committed, perhaps even more committed than I was, but I received it with a great sense of pride."
No matter what Javier accomplishes in life both personally and professionally he credits Dickinson with being the fuel that has helped him achieve success. "Great memories, great memories of amazing people that I met, whether it was students, teammates, coaches, administrators or coaches...and how they all shaped me as a person," Javier said. "Dickinson was a very important part of my life that made me who I am."
Javier was a highly decorated soccer player during his time as a Red Devil. He was a three-time All-Conference selection, earning First-team honors in the Middle Atlantic Conference in 1992. Dickinson transitioned to the Centennial in 1993 where Javier earned a pair of all-conference honors and was named the league's first Player of the Year in 1993. He led the Centennial in scoring in 1993 and remains the school record holder in both goals and points with 56 and 128, respectively. He currently ranks sixth in career assists and holds the top two spots for points in a season and ranks first and third in goals.
Javier played a key role in leading the Red Devils to back-to-back Eastern Colleges Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament appearances, including an ECAC Championship in 1993.
To view Javier's exclusive interview with Assistant Athletic Director Justin Farrell, click on the link below.