Real Salt Lake Homegrown Jaziel Orozco and Real Monarchs forward Yekeson Subah graduated from Real Salt Lake Academy High School last week at Zions Bank Stadium. Their graduation was celebrated not only by their families, but also by teammates, coaches and Club staff members alike.
"It continues be a privilege to watch all of our kids develop not only as footballers, but also academically as students," said RSL Assistant General Manager, Tony Beltran. "I think Jazi and Yek are shining examples of that. It can be really difficult and arduous being in a high school setting, but to add on the weight of being a professional footballer and balancing those obligations along with the pressures that come with a traditional classroom environment, it's hard work. I think it's fantastic the way they've rose to the occasion of balancing being successful both on the field and off of it, which is what we're all about."
RSL Academy High School is a tuition free, public STEM charter school which serves both the public and also RSL Academy players. As professional soccer players, Orozco and Subah faced non-traditional challenges to complete their degrees. Balancing their academic and professional sporting obligations was paramount for their success.
"It was a tough road, studying and practicing, but it paid off," said Orozco. "I really want to think Roxy Luna, one of the main tutors that pushed us to graduate. I had to stay at school after practice and I had to stay after school till six some days to finish all the work but it paid off. I'm so happy about it."
Roxy Luna, the Director of Academy Education, worked closely with Orozco and Subah to make sure they accomplished their academic goals.
"Seeing them graduate, it was wonderful," said Luna. "To me it didn't feel like working, it was just me being with the boys and supporting them. I knew their schedule was a little bit harder than the rest of the Academy boys and even regular students. Seeing all the hard work that they did up close and then seeing them going up on that stage, it was just great. They came and they gave me this big hug and thanked me, and thank goodness I was wearing sunglasses because tears were almost coming down my face. I was so proud."
For Subah, graduation was a dream realized after many long hours of hard work.
"It feels great," said Subah. "It was something I've been looking forward to for the past four years of my high school career. It was something that I felt like I needed to do because if I wanted to purse going to college, this is something that I needed to get done, so I'm very grateful."
Subah joined the RSL Academy in June of 2021, and then signed a professional contract with Real Monarchs in September of that year. Subah completed his last year of high school at the Academy which he had high praise for.
"The Club that helped us a lot, especially working with a school and soccer schedule," said Subah. "We have Roxy and a couple of the staff in the school that was there to help us throughout the whole process, and everything just went so smoothly. It was amazing, I've never felt so welcomed or see a school system care so much about making sure their kids graduate."
The bond Orozco and Subah have made off the field made graduating together even more special for both them and their families.
"It was amazing, just to see Jazi so happy," said Subah. "To see us accomplishing something like this, especially when both our parents didn't graduate high school or college, is amazing. This is a huge accomplishment for us, and it's a great step in our lives."
Orozco, who made his Real Salt Lake first team debut this year, didn't hide from the emotions of the day. It was a day of celebration, and being able to celebrate with those who supported him meant everything to him.
"My dad came and we started crying after because it was unbelievable, said Orozco. "We couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. It was a great moment."
The passion and dedication that Orozco and Subah show for Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs can be seen every time they step on the field, but that same passion and dedication is the reason they succeed off of it.
Beltran made sure to point out that while both Orozco and Subah are both professional athletes, it's who they are as well rounded people that he's really proud of.
"It's a point of emphasis for not only everyone in the building, but the new ownership group as well, that when it comes to our academy players you have to be solid academically, you have to be a good citizen and then the football comes after that," said Beltran. "It's been fantastic to see these two excel in that regard. They're great examples of the system working really well both on the field and off the field."