Chivas' Trujillo invites special guests to practice
CARSON, Calif. – There aren’t many people who can say that soccer literally saved their life, but 9-year-old Katherine Gutierrez is one of them.
On May 30 of last year, Gutierrez and her family were at Dave and Buster’s in Ontario, Calif., when the then 8-year-old girl became a victim of a violent attack, suffering multiple stab wounds before her father came to her aid.
As Gutierrez lay on the floor bleeding, Officer Mike Gonzales of the Ontario Police Department came to her side. To keep her from going into shock, Gonzalez began asking her questions. Over the course of the 12 minutes it took for paramedics to arrive, they formed a bond over the one thing they both loved to talk about: soccer.
A year later, Gutierrez is doing fine and, thanks to an invitation from Chivas USA defender Mariano Trujillo, was on hand with Gonzales at the Goats’ practice on Tuesday morning. The pair will also be in attendance at the Red-and-White’s match against FC Dallas on June 26.
“Mike is a friend of mine,” said Trujillo. “When he told me the story about he and Katherine, I felt like I had to do something to recognize him and to recognize the strength that she had that night. He told me that she loved soccer, so I thought it was a perfect idea to bring her here to see a practice and go to a game.”
Gutierrez and Gonzales have enjoyed a special bond ever since the incident, and continue to spend time together.
“She’s my little buddy,” said Gonzales after Chivas USA’s practice on Tuesday. “We go on a lot of outings like this.”
Their relationship became even stronger in September of last year, when, after Gonzales discovered that Katherine’s AYSO soccer team was suddenly without a coach, he stepped up and offered to take the reins.
“She loves soccer, but when you play in AYSO, they run out of coaches sometimes,” said Gonzales. “I joined in so that I could coach her on her team.”
Gonzales has no formal experience as a soccer coach, but Katherine insists he’s doing just fine.
“He’s great,” she said with a smile.
Gonzales and Gutierrez were treated to autographs and handshakes from the Chivas USA players after the training session had concluded, and enjoyed long conversations with Trujillo and head coach Martín Vásquez.
“Soccer is an international language,” said Trujillo. “It’s amazing how easily people can unite over the sport, even if you’re from different places. It’s great.”