07-28 Justin Medina

Paris Wildcat Justin Medina will continue his soccer career at Jacksonville College after recently signing his letter of intent with the school. Pictured, Medina looks to get the ball past a Pleasant Grove defender in a Feb. 15 game Paris won 5-0.

On the soccer field, Paris Wildcat Justin Medina is as well-rounded as they come, able to impact games in any number of ways. Now, he’ll continue his athletic career at Jacksonville College, where he recently committed to play.

Medina’s path towards becoming a collegiate soccer player began at a young age, and though he grew to love the game over time, Medina said he wasn’t always so enamored with it.

“I started playing when I was really young when my parents put me in, and to be honest I didn’t like it initially,” he said. “Over time, though, I really ended up liking the competitive aspect and pushing myself to be better. I was always active as a kid, but didn’t know what to put that energy towards until I really started playing soccer.”

When he arrived at Paris High School, joining the Wildcats soccer team was a no-brainer, and he said the experience of playing for Paris has been one of the best of his life.

“It’s helped me grow as a player, and it’s also how I’ve formed a lot of my friendships,” he said. “Our group of six seniors are like brothers.”

On the field, Medina — a defensive midfielder for the Wildcats — got better year after year, head coach Clint Cobb said.

“His passion for the game is unmatched,” Cobb said. “He’s always organizing scrimmages and practices with his teammates or working on some aspect of his game. He’s just always working to get better.”

Medina developed a keen sense of awareness for where all his teammates on the field, to go along with an astoundingly accurate ability to pass the ball.

“His senior year, he led our team in assists by a mile, and that’s not something you see very often from that position,” Cobb said. “He’s also got sure feet, and it’s really hard for opposing defenders to get the ball away from him.”

Medina scored five goals and added a team-best 18 assists over the course of his senior season, which was cut short due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And though the season was cut short, it wasn’t before he made a clear impact on the district, and he was rewarded for his strong play by being named the 13-4A All-District MVP.

With Medina as the veteran leader of the team, the Wildcats established themselves as one of the best teams in the state, and seemed primed for a run at the state championship, as they rose through the ranks to become the third best team in Texas.

“I was really happy with being ranked third,” Medina said. “I think we could’ve gotten to number one and gone far in the playoffs, but I’m still happy with what we were able to accomplish.”

Medina said he was very disappointed when he learned the season would be cut short, but added that he reminded himself that teams all throughout the state were going through the exact same thing.

“I was bummed out but I knew this wasn’t just an ‘us’ thing,” he said. “Every team was kind of in the same boat.”

He chose Jacksonville College after meeting with the coach, who expressed a strong interest in having Medina play for the Jaguars.

Looking back on his time at Paris High School, Medina said he’s most going to miss the relationships he’s formed with his teammates over the years.

Looking to the future, though, Medina said he’s excited to continue working on his game, and proving himself against even tougher competition. To excel, though, he knows he needs to continue working to take his game to the next level. One aspect of his game he wants to put some emphasis on improving is his shooting, he said.

“There are always places you can improve,” he said. “I can shoot, but I didn’t really need to score that much at Paris, since I was more focussed on passing and defending.”

He hopes to stay at Jacksonville College for one or two years before transferring to a D1 school, and hopes to eventually play soccer professionally.

“I love soccer, and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” he said. “I’m just excited to keep playing.”

Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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