Updated: Apr 22
The most consistent attribute of Judah sports teams is effort. Thanks to many Judah athletes’ perseverance and hard work, the school has stayed competitive over the years. Often these hardworking athletes are named to their sport’s all-conference team, voted there by the coaches of the opposing teams. This year, Judah soccer team member and center back defenseman Julian Llano became the latest athlete to be recognized by the opposing coaches. The coaches say that Julian Llano is one of the best soccer players in the East Central Illinois Conference.
All-conference athletes are recognized for any number of attributes, whether it is effective use of their natural talent or consistent hard work in support of the team. Julian prefers to call it “what goes on behind the scenes.” For Julian, soccer means constant effort at every practice. “It’s definitely not easy,” says Julian, “but you just have to give 100 percent.” Giving his all is what makes Julian Llano an all-conference soccer player. His slogan? “There’s no statistic for effort.”
Here’s what Julian had to say when we interviewed him.
— EJ Hairston, class of '24
Julian, why do you play soccer?
Well, when I was younger, I tried out every sport. I did a lot of baseball and a lot of soccer. But I decided to stick to soccer, because Judah had a team, and I wanted to get out there and do something athletic. Soccer is definitely a lot of running compared to baseball. There is so much action going on and not a lot of breaks. You’re running almost the whole game.
How does it feel to be named to the all-conference team for soccer?
I was definitely surprised but pleased.
Why do you think you were named to the all-conference team?
I guess, maybe, effort. You know, what goes on behind the scenes. I’m definitely not the most talented guy on the team, but I put in a lot of effort. People on this team have a lot of talent, and they could go far. It’s definitely not easy, but you just have to give 100 percent.
What’s your favorite part of soccer?
My favorite part of soccer has gotta be the team. It’s gotta be the boys. We have fun. We crack jokes in practice, but we get serious when we need to.
How do you juggle soccer and school?
You set aside time to do your homework, study for tests, and then give your all at practice. You just stick with it. When you’re playing for Judah, you may not get the results you want. You just have to keep coming at it every day, giving it your all. There’s no statistic for effort, and that’s the biggest factor.
What’s your favorite thing about playing your position?
Center back is like being the center fielder in baseball. You’re basically the last line of defense before the goalie. A lot of the game, in terms of defense, is on you. I play for my team. I don’t go out there and play for myself. I play for my teammates.
What’s your mentality during the game?
Well, I do push-ups to get my blood flowing, and the team definitely has fun before the game. But my mentality is the mentality that my coach gives me: to be as aggressive as possible, to always go after the ball, and to never be scared.
What’s your relationship like with your coach?
I have a very good relationship with my coach. Freshman year — me and Talon were the only freshmen on the team — there was definitely a big skill gap between me and the other players. But my coach stuck with me, taught me, talked to me, helped me out. The coach this year, I have a good relationship with him too. He’s a good guy, a good coach. He pushes us hard. He’s aggressive, enthusiastic, and big on passion.