Compton, California, is not a nice place to grow up. Situated in the greater Los Angeles area, this city is known to be the gang central of the United States and home to the Bloods and the Crips. Just this year, Compton was assigned extra support by the Violence Reduction Network for its once-again rising violence rates.
Compton is an area that steals childhoods from children. The hardened demeanor that many of the children of Compton emerge with is no surprise to people who are familiar with the area. It may surprise some when they find out that Jorge Alonso Cea, the defender for the Golden Eagles soccer team, is from Compton.
“It’s a lot different being here,” Cea said. “There aren’t as many gates. We had to have everything gated – houses, schools […] We had to have everything protected.”
Cea’s parents tried to protect him, but did not shelter him. He says he knew that family friends were drug dealers, users, gang members and that many of his close friends would be sucked into the cycle. His parents, however, did not want him to become a Blood. So on Sundays, Cea would travel with his dad and uncle to watch them play soccer in a recreation league. This would be the first encounter Cea would have with the sport.
But this was only the gateway. At age six he began playing and trying to imitate all of the men he would see on that field. Within a year Cea was permanently hooked. By the time he was eight he knew this was what he wanted to do.
Cea was driven to play soccer. He did not know what that looked like, but he knew he wanted to do it. So it was an automatic “yes” when the JBU soccer coach asked him to come play for the team.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what college was,” Cea said. “Okay I did, but like halfway through high school, I had no clue what college was.”
Cea jumped in. He admits that his first summer coming he was not fully committed as the full rush of making it to the next level got to his head. But now he’s one of the most driven.
Tim Huffine called Cea a pace setter.
“The way he practices, you can tell he’s wanting to get better every day. So he’ll be at practice an hour, thirty minutes early practicing,” Huffine said. “He’s always wanting to improve and become a better player. There’s a lot of guys who do that […] but you can tell he wants to be a better player through it.”
Cea sprained his ankle in the spring and has been catching up ever since. He admitted frustration but not defeat.
Cea said his faith is the most crucial aspect of his life, and it is from this that everything else flows.
“You know whether it’s having to wake up early in the morning or staying up after I’ve finished my homework, my time with God has to happen,” Cea said. “Somethings you have to cut. That’s one of the things I can’t.”
Cea is Compton’s son. His music interest attest to that, as do his family, tattoos and attitude. But he has not let his circumstances define him.
Taylor Neil, freshman kinesiology major, has nothing but positive things to say about Cea.
“He’s like my older brother,” Neil said, adding that Cea knows everyone, seeks to include her, and is very friendly.
Neil also identifies him as a deep empathizer.
“I heard Jorge’s testimony,” Neil said. “He desires to be there for people and understand what they’re going through. He’s had it tough, but seeks to love other people through that.”