Zach Estell fondly recalls running on cow trails through the New Mexico desert clad as always in soccer clothes and shoes. It was late spring meaning he’d rise at dawn and hop in his dad’s truck to help brand cattle and mend fences. It was a small ranch operation and Estell wouldn’t get a meal until the 6-7 hours of branding were finished.
Estell would chase the cows like a shepherd dog, scaring them into the pen and steering them down the chute doing his best to not get kicked. His dad is a cattle rancher and metal sculptor. The elder Estell told his son to stand strong and not show any weakness when facing off with surly cattle. The cows would bend if they knew Zach was fast and fearless.
That lesson was probably rooted somewhere in his brain during Albuquerque Sol tryouts when he played defense for the first time in his soccer career. On a frigid but sunny January morning Estell was at St. Pius X High School with other aspiring Sol players.
“I was impressed how badly everyone wanted it,” Estell said of tryouts. “There was a lot of energy trying to make the team.”
However, the scrimmage was frustrating because his team full of attack-minded players was hemorrhaging goals. Estell is naturally a striker or central mid but he decided to play centerback to stop the bleeding. His only previous defensive efforts came in 1-on-1 battles during his quadruple-headers he would play a few nights at week at International Indoor.
“I would pick the best attacker and I just wanted to ruin his day,” Estell said. “That sort of prepared me a little bit. The idea that nobody is getting by me.”
He admits the positional and organizational portion of the position is a bit harder to learn. But he battled hard through the extended tryout. Estell actually paired back his ambitious indoor schedule to make time for the Sol. He’s appeared in three matches for the Sol playing on the wing, striker, and at centerback.
Estell boasts one of the stronger academic profiles in the PDL. The Highland High School graduate earned his B.A. from UNM in foreign languages with a business minor. This May he earned his MBA working his way through school doing finance work for the UNM IT Department.
He hopes to parlay that background into a two-tiered career. The first priority is becoming a commercial airline pilot. His language skills and business sense should make him an attractive candidate. Estell is proficient in German and Portugese, and fluent in Spanish, thanks to his soccer upbringing in the cultural melting pot of Albuquerque.
“I played soccer for Spanish-speaking clubs for years growing up,” Estell said. “I basically never played soccer in English.”
To help with his flying fitness, Estell is also committed to starting a personal training business working 1-on-1 with clients (but not cows) to work on speed and strength training. He has spent hours researching all sports trying to unlock the right combination of diet and exercises to build explosive speed. His regimen is centered on training the nervous system for a holistic exercise routine.
Estell apparently intrigued his teammates on a road trip describing his unique exercise techniques. The trick is putting your body under as much strain as possible in a given instant by applying and absorbing force. Imagine an aggressive form of yoga.
With that physical fitness discipline, Estell is confident he’ll be ready for 2018 tryouts at whatever position required.
“Being born and raised in Albuquerque I always thought we should have a team,” Estell said. “The Sol is a good thing for Albuquerque, the city and state deserve it 100 percent.”