As Penn men’s soccer’s Amado Lozano navigates the unique circumstances of his last year with the Red and Blue, he reflects on what his experiences on and off the field have meant to him.
Growing up in Northern California with two immigrant parents, a brother and a sister, Amado was surrounded by athletes. His dad was a competitive water polo and tennis player, and his aunt played tennis at California, so from a young age he was able to see the significance and appeal of playing sports. He discovered a love for the sport of soccer when he was only seven years old after his older sister started playing.
“The first time I learned how to juggle a soccer ball will always stick with me,” Lozano said. “At around seven or eight years old, I started kicking the ball in the air and could really only do one or two kicks, but from there my teammates and I would work on it every practice and could eventually do it for however long we wanted to.”
Around eighth grade, Lozano began participating in youth national team camps and quickly realized that playing Division I soccer was a very real possibility for his future. Joining an MLS youth academy in high school, he showcased what he could do on the field and ultimately landed a spot on the roster for the Quakers.
Thinking about the ways he has developed as both a player and leader since his college soccer debut, Lozano agrees that he has matured drastically on and off the field.
“Coming into freshman year, I sort of had a big head about myself,” Lozano said. “I’ve really strengthened my ability to take advice and listen to my coaches and teammates. I handle criticism much better now which has really allowed me to be the best captain I can be for my team.”
Lozano did not have the easiest freshman year, transitioning from being a standout player in high school to competing for playing time with his talented teammates. He attributes much of his personal growth to having to overcome obstacles that took place during his first year at Penn.
“Coming from California to Philly, I obviously had to adjust to new culture and weather which was honestly harder than I expected it would be,” Lozano said. “I didn’t play the first five games of my freshman season, then in the first game I touched the field, I sprained my MCL. That on top of family stuff I had going on, the only reason I got through it was because of the support of my friends and family.”
Taking on more of a leadership role in the past year, Lozano has been instrumental in keeping his team connected through these unprecedented times of limited in-person interactions. Over the past eight months, he has found different ways to keep his own mental and physical health in check.
“I played a lot of golf,” Lozano said. “Some people say I look like Tiger Woods, so I had to give it a shot. I also tried to stay off my phone as much as I could and read some really good books. I just finished 'Shoe Dog' by Phil Knight.”
Lozano has undoubtedly left an impact on his teammates, specifically senior Jake Kohlbrenner, who described how his time with the Red and Blue would not have been the same without Lozano's energetic presence.
“Being freshman-year roommates, we’ve been super close since day one,” Kohlbrenner recalled. “We would wake up and walk together for 7 a.m. training, we would warm up together before games. He’s been my best friend and heavily contributed to my Penn soccer experience and Penn experience overall.”
Lozano has received a variety of advice and guidance throughout his soccer career, but he has chosen to embody one particular motto over the last four years.
“My dad always says to me, ‘Be humble, but believe that you’re the best player on the field,’” Lozano said. “Be humble in the sense that you can always improve, and everyone has weaknesses, but when you’re in the thick of it, if you don’t think you’re the best player on the field then you might as well give up and lose.”
When thinking about what impact he has had on the Red and Blue, Lozano acknowledged that after a disappointing 2017 season, there was a huge culture change for the men’s soccer program. He played a vital part in helping to create a better environment that ultimately led to success on and off the field for the next two seasons.
“Bringing the group together and embracing the wide range of members in our program are what I am really proud of,” Lozano said. “I think that the ability I have as a leader has been shown throughout my ability to unite people. So, I hope my teammates and coaches remember me as someone who could connect people outside of soccer, while also being a key contributor on the field.”
Lozano has played an evident role contributing to the Red and Blue’s success and has left a long-lasting impact on both the program and his teammates.