By Jenelyn Russo     4/10/2016

Soccer has always been part of Sam Guinane’s life and his love for the game has been largely influenced by his father, who brought the sport to his family from his home country of England.

“It was my dad who really got me into [soccer],” says Guinane. “I love the passion surrounding the entire sport. It’s the world’s game, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

As a varsity goalkeeper for JSerra Catholic High School, Guinane views his position on the pitch as much more than “the guy who blocks the shots.”

“Being a keeper, I’ve learned that it’s more of the mental side of the game than anything, more than any other position,” says the 16-year-old sophomore. “You’re really the captain of the ship. You lead from behind and you help your teammates see…and really be that mental anchor for your team.”

While not an offensive position, Guinane feels the goalkeeper plays a key role in the outcome of each match.

“You don’t get as much glory as scoring a goal. You can block a goal, but if you make a mistake, it can cost you the game,” says Guinane. “You have to be very mentally tough for those situations, which I think is different than any other position on the team.”

Boys soccer head coach at JSerra, Oliver Wyss, considers Guinane to be a model student-athlete and knows his goalkeeper’s skill and influence have been a large part of the Lions’ success.

“Sam distinguishes himself through hard work, and his demonstrated ability to encourage others has set him apart from the rest,” says Wyss. “I’ve had the privilege to witness his tremendous growth and development, not only as an athlete, but in his maturity and character as well.”

On campus, Guinane is president of a club called Soccer For Hope, which is part of a larger nonprofit organization founded by Wyss that raises funds and awareness and provides emotional support, to families who are affected by childhood cancer. Guinane’s own battle with leukemia at the age of four gives him a unique perspective as a survivor and patient ambassador.

“I think [I’ve learned] from that experience how strong you really are underneath,” says Guinane of fighting cancer, “and [how to] be thankful for everything you’ve been given in life.”

Looking ahead, Guinane is hopeful he can continue his soccer career in college at a Division I program. The Ladera Ranch resident is inspired by his parents, as well as Spain national team goalkeeper Iker Casillas, and leans on leadership, dedication and his faith as the cornerstones of his work ethic.

“It gives you that sense of security,” says Guinane of his faith. “Just go out, work your hardest and know that God doesn’t judge you on your performance…He will guide you to succeed.”