By JENELYN RUSSO     3/20/2016

Having played soccer since the age of five, Jonathan Stoop is drawn to studying the game as much as he is playing it.

“The main thing I love about the sport is the diversity of the game,” says Stoop. “There are so many different types of players. It intrigued me a lot, just watching and seeing what the other players do during the game.”


As a senior and center back for Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Stoop plays a key role on the field for the Eagles, both as a defender and a leader.

“I like the position (of center back) because it’s kind of a leadership role,” he says. “It organizes the rest of the team while they are playing. It’s kind of a player-coach (position) during the game.”

So it’s no surprise that Stoop’s commitment to leadership and understanding the game has earned him the title of captain this season, a challenge the three-year varsity player welcomes.

“My role as captain is to involve everybody in what we’re doing and build chemistry throughout the team,” says the 18-year-old. “On the field, I’m not a vocal captain; I lead by example. I try to do my job, work hard and hopefully the players around me will follow.”

Named First Team All-Trinity League in 2015, Stoop’s versatility has resulted in leading his team in scoring this season, a rare accomplishment for a defender. Varsity head coach Wade Fraser uses Stoop as the “centerpiece of all of our set pieces.”

“Jonathan is an extremely important part of the team,” says Fraser. “He is our only team captain, and while he doesn’t say a whole lot, his work rate and ability have earned him a tremendous amount of respect from his teammates.”

One of Stoop’s observations is how crucial a strong commitment to training is, both on and off the pitch.

“Over the years one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is realizing how important practice and hard work [are] and how many things off the field there [are] to improve your game,” says Stoop. “I’ve applied things that I’ve learned from coaches and mentors to improve my game and to be the player I am now.”

Stoop’s approach to his game will take the Ladera Ranch resident to UC San Diego in the fall, where he will play Division II soccer for the Tritons while studying economics. In addition to being grateful for all who have coached and mentored him along the way, Stoop has a great deal of respect for his father.

“One of the people I look up to is my dad,” says Stoop, “because of how he’s done his career in business and the things he’s done and places he’s been. It’s really inspired me to do what I’m doing now in soccer.”