Western Nebraska Community College's Ramses Athualpa has one goal in mind and that is to play professional soccer.
The Cougar captain is climbing the ladder of experience as the senior mid-fielder signed Friday to continue his playing at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado.
"I choose to go to that school because I feel like the program will help me improve as a player and a person," he said. "I am excited to keep working for that school and playing for two more years."
Athualpa, who came from the big city of Lima, Peru, said he had a lot of help in coming to the states two years ago.
"I still remember my first day here, especially since I come from a big city of Lima, Peru. Coming to Scottsbluff, which is a small town, it was hard at the beginning," Athualpa said. "I didn't speak English very well, It was hard and I love my teammates and coach who they helped me a lot to get used this place and loving this this place and WNCC."
That is why he is excited to be playing soccer for another two years.
"It is pretty exciting because for the moment I got here I always had the opportunity to develop as a person and a player, and to keep growing during every single practice," he said. "I feel like playing at that level is going to help me so much. I can't wait to go there."
Athualpa joins a Colorado Mesa team that went 13-4-5 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Division II national tournament. Athualpa is the second player to play for Mesa as he joins Lawan Adbury, who will be a senior on next year's team.
WNCC coach Todd Rasnic said Colorado Mesa is getting a complete player.
"I think Ramses will bring character," he Rasnic said. "Without question, Ramses has demonstrated a positive mental attitude and he put in work every day. He put in hard work. He led the team by example. I told everyone I came in contact with that Ramses is probably the most complete player that I have coached. He has the whole package. He has mentality. He has the work rate. He has the physical stamina. He has the technical and tactical ability in a game to play at an extremely high level. The question is how high. So far every time I see him go to a higher level team, he becomes the best player on the team. If that is the case, we are still waiting to see where the ceiling is. Sometimes I think players of high caliber set their own ceiling and limitation. I think it depends what he does. If he continues to put out what he did here, I don't think there is any limitations."
Athualpa's goal is to get to the professional level. This summer, Athualpa is playing soccer league soccer for the Colorado Springs Switchback organization in their club teams.
"After my two years at Mesa, I am looking to make the pro level which was my dream when I started playing soccer," he said. "I think CMU will get me closer to that dream. But everything is up to me. If I work hard, if I am a good student, I am pretty sure my coach will help me a lot."
When he heads to CMU, he has extra motivation as former Cougar baseball player Alex Achtermann recently was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and will be playing baseball in Grand Junction, Colorado. Athualpa said that is motivation for him to keep working.
"That is a great motivation for me," he said. "Looking at a lot of players that have been here and gone pro, I am trying to get to that point, trying to make that level, and I pretty sure I can do great things. I am grateful for that and I have been practicing for that."
If everything Athualpa has accomplished, he is proud to have spent two years at WNCC.
"Coach Rasnic, my teammates, all of WNCC, and this community have given me so many things that I can put in my life," he said. "I am glad to have spent two years of my life here."