Anthony Velarde stood next to the south soccer goal area at Reedley High School’s Sal Gonzalez Field on Jan. 18. Velarde, a 2015 Reedley High graduate and recent All-American player at Fresno Pacific University, has signed a contract to play professionally with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC franchise in the United Soccer League.

Soccer has been the sport to blaze Anthony Velarde’s career path since he moved to Reedley from Southern California with his family as a 9-year-old boy in 2005.

He refined his game as he grew, playing his freshman and senior years at Reedley High School and the middle two years with the California Odyssey travel team out of Fresno-Clovis. After earning North Yosemite League Most Valuable Plahyer honors as a senior, the 2015 RHS graduate found recruiting options lacking. He followed his older brother and quietly joined the Fresno Pacific University soccer program.

After minor surgery on his left hip in 2016 forced him to redshirt, Velarde returned and burst into national prominence with spectacular junior and senior seasons for the Sunbirds. It culminated with Velarde setting the school and PacWest Conference career assist record in 2018, earning him All-American recognition from the Division II Conference Commissioners Association and United Soccer Coaches.

The high point came early in January, when the 22-year-old signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC of the United Soccer League.

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