Jesus Izaguirre trades NAIA for National Team Dreams
Benedictine University Mesa alum, Jesus Izaguirre, played for the Mexican National Team in the 2022 Pan American Cup being hosted in Nayarit, Mexico. The native of Sonora, Mexico earned a spot to play for Mexico after trying out in 2021.
Izaguirre spent the fall of 2021 as an assistant coach for the BenU women's volleyall team while also training and preparing for the national team tryout. He helped the Redhawks reach playoffs for the second year in a row, and it was well-known among the BenU volleyball community that Izaguirre would be leaving after their playoff run. Although he had a large support system, he felt the toll of this opportunity and the commitment it would take.
"It was a tough journey having to leave my family, friends, and everything that I was comfortable with," says Izaguirre. "The most difficult part about this journey was the mental side of things. Yes, it is physically demanding when you are training for over 6 hours a day, but mentally it's brutal being away from all your loved ones and isolated to do the same thing every day for months. It's tough."
Despite the challenges he faced along the journey, Izaguirre says, "being able to represent your country, and sing your national anthem as you're wearing that jersey is a remarkable experience. I wouldn't change a thing. This is my dream. To play on biggest stage, and I'm right here."
Izaguirre helped Mexico place fifth in the NORCECA Pan American Cup. Mexico defeated the Dominican Republic 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24) on July 16 at the Amado Nervo Auditorium in Tepic, Nayarit. Mexico out blocked Dominican Republic with a 13-7 margin. They also outnumbered with a huge 8-1 advantage in aces and a 51-42 margin in attacks. Mexico had 31 scoring errors while Dominican Republic had 24. Mexico finished the event with a 2-4 record and defeated the Dominican Republic in four sets in the preliminary round (21-25, 25-12, 25-23, 25-21).
The Pan American Cup is a route for teams to qualify for the 2023 NORCECA Continental Championship, the 2023 Pan American Games of Santiago, Chile and the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games.
As the 2021 Pan Am Cup champion, Mexico, and Dominican Republic are already qualified to Santiago 2023.
Story contribution by Angel Zazueta, Sports Information Director at Benedictine-Mesa