The Knee'd to Succeed

Sixteen-year-old Guillermo Tellez sits casually with one leg propped up on a chair, clad in his usual athletic shorts and a t-shirt with his signature perky ponytail peeping out from the top of his head.

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Guillermo is the second child of four. He has an older brother and a younger brother and sister. They live in a house in the Belmont Craigan district of Northern Chicago. They moved from Southern Chicago when Guillermo was around five or six years old.

On being asked what growing up in Chicago is like for a teen like him, Guillermo said it is difficult because there a lot of gangs and shootings, especially living downtown like him.

“As long as you hang out with the right people, you’ll be okay,” Guillermo said. “Then [living in downtown Chicago] is really nice.”

Despite living in a crime-ridden, gang-busting city like Chicago, Guillermo adamantly pursues his passion of playing competitive club soccer.

“Soccer is my passion. It’s something I love to do. Every time I play, all my troubles go away. All the stress, everything, it goes away,” Guillermo, on the field since age four, said.

Guillermo poses for a relaxed photo in front of a fountain on Indiana University campus.

Unfortunately, Guillermo has recently suffered a career-altering injury; his meniscus has been torn. This injury to this part of the knee requires surgery for Guillermo, who will go under the knife in less than two weeks in hopes of salvaging his soccer career.

“The recovery time should be about six months,” Guillermo said, as he pulled up a diagram of his knee with the torn meniscus in plain view. “Then I’ll have to go to physical therapy until I can get back on it.”

For an athlete like Guillermo, who aspires to play soccer for a Division 1 college someday, an injury and recovery time like this can be devastating.

“It’s really sad because this is such an important year for me,” Guillermo, who will be a junior this fall, said.

In the meantime, if he is not able to fulfill his dream of playing soccer in college, Guillermo would like to become a neurosurgeon. He plans on taking even more advanced science and mathematics classes his junior and senior year, his favorite classes at school.

Guillermo’s backup plan? To become a physical therapist, so he can help other injured teens like himself someday.