CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – In the few hours between two-a-day preseason training sessions at Grande Sports World, activities vary amongst the players. Most opt for a quick nap, while others call home, watch a bit of TV or relax behind their computers.
But 17-year-old Diego Fagundez has more pressing matters to attend to during his free time: homework.
Fagundez, who signed with the Revolution when he was a 15-year-old freshman at Leominster High School, is currently enrolled in Fitchburg Alternative School’s night program, where he’s working toward completing both his junior and senior years of high school simultaneously. When home, Fagundez attends classes four times a week (Monday – Thursday), training with the Revolution in the morning before going to classes in the afternoon.
While on the road, the work doesn’t stop. Before leaving on a 10-day training trip to Casa Grande, Fagundez was given a number of assignments to be completed before returning to class. Although a spotty internet connection has slowed his progression on the current trip, Fagundez knows the work needs to be done one way or the other.
“It’s tough (to balance),” Fagundez admitted. “The first time we did a double session here in Casa Grande, I went to training in the morning, came back, went to training in the afternoon, came back, and I was about to do an assignment, but I was so tired I was glad the Wi-Fi wasn’t working. But I need to get it done either way.”
Fagundez understands the importance of earning his high school diploma, even as a third-year pro who recently debuted for the Uruguay Under-20 National Team. Noting himself that “you never know what could happen in the future,” Fagundez wants to be prepared for any and all possibilities down the road.
But it’s more than just personal reasons driving his academic pursuits. As a professional athlete with hordes of adoring fans, Fagundez is well aware that he’s viewed as a role model by many of his teenage peers. In that sense, New England’s young phenom wants to set a positive example.
“I just want to make people proud and I want people to know I went to school and I played soccer at the same time,” Fagundez said. “I didn’t give up school just to go play professional.”