Part nine in a series of articles on the players that make up the 2009 Los Angeles Sol.
South of the American border lies Mexico, a country that has been a hotbed of soccer talent for many decades.
Many people in the land of "El Tri" flock north to the United States states in search of better jobs, better wages, and for their children a better quality of life that they inherited, to paraphrase Senator John McCain of the border state of Arizona.
An example of the many people who have benefited from their parents immigration from Mexico is Los Angeles Sol defender Stephanie Cox. Along with fellow Latina and Boston Breaker Amy Rodriguez, they are part of the new generation of USA Women's National Team players that have ensured the continued success of the program on the world stage.
For Cox, her heritage adds to the diversity and success of a city fueled by sport and entertainment. A city where (as of the 2000 Census) 46.5% of the population is Hispanic.
Cox, who was born as Stephanie Renee Lopez, was born on April 3, 1986 in Los Gatos, California. Los Gatos is a small unincorporated town of 28,592, located on the outskirts of San Jose, CA.
It is the home of Netflix, and is where celebrities like race car driver A.J. Allmendinger, figure skater Peggy Fleming and Apple Computer co-founder/Dancing with the Stars contestant Steve Wozniak call home.
For most of her life, however, Cox was raised in Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento. And like most players playing with the Sol, family has been a huge priority.
“My dad was always encouraging me to be my best, but at the same time encouraging me to have fun reaching my potential," said Cox in an interview with Latina Style. "It is important to know when to push and when to hold back.
"I should always be working in soccer, but I know I can’t do it all the time or I get burned out. The academics help with that balance.”
Cox's role as a student-athlete paid dividends. She developed her role as a defender with the Thundering Herd of Elk Grove High. Academically, Cox graduated from Elk Grove High a 4.17 GPA.
Cox also played for a number of teams in Elk Grove as a youth player. In 2002, Cox earned all Women's Premier Soccer League honors as a member of Elk Grove Pride. In 2003, she garnered U-19 State and Regional championships, to go with a runner-up finish. And in both of those years she helped lead Elk Grove to U-19 Premier League championships.
Her ability to make stops and set up the midfielders and forwards caught the attention of the Portland Pilots (of whom fellow Sol teammate Lisa Sari is currently an assistant coach for) and the Head Coach/Director of Soccer at the time, Garrett Smith.
In 2005, her sophomore year, Cox helped lead the Pilots to their first-ever NCAA national title with a 4-0 shutout of UCLA. It was the culmination of a season that saw the Purple and White finish the year with 23 wins, two draws and no defeats.
That same year, Cox would make her debut with the USA Women's National Team, earning her first cap in the 2005 Algarve Cup.
In 55 appearances, Cox was instrumental in that campaign, as well as crucial to Algarve Cup victories in 2007 and 2008, a third place finish at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, and a Peace Queen Cup victory with Olympic gold at Beijing a year later.
In 2007, Cox married formet Pilots baseball player Brian Cox while graduating from the university with a B.A. is Psychology, an NCAA academic and athletic award, and the Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the year, given to the best amateur player from the state of Oregon.
As the first Hispanic player to make an impact with the USA National Team, Cox is already a role model for many to follow, including Boston Breaker Amy Rodriguez.
But she is a person who chooses to go her own path. And she continues to blaze her own trail.
In 2008, she was drafted by the Los Angeles Sol, and her presence as an anchor on defense has taken plenty of weight off goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.
They say good things come to those who wait. As a national team member, the #14 for LA has yet to score a goal.
But while we wait for that to happen, you can be sure that the fans at the Home Depot Center can't wait to see Stephanie Cox play her role in ensuring the success of the Los Angeles Sol every time she steps onto the pitch.
She is a proud Latina footballer, athlete and scholar who is making her mark in a city that embraces the same heritage she embraces.
We probably won't need to wait to long, now will we?
Wait, and watch.