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Westy Team Heads to South Korea for Drone Soccer Tournament


It means hello in Korean and four Westminster High School students are learning to say it as they prepare to travel to South Korea later this month to participate in the International Drone Soccer Open. The four of them, along with Teacher Robbie Ferguson, were selected by U.S Drone Soccer to compete on the U.S. team. The organization is paying for the team’s travel and lodging.

Over the past couple of years, drone soccer has exploded in popularity with schools and organizations creating teams. You can learn more about the sport and see the team in action last year at the Wings Over the Rockies aviation gallery.

girl in usa shirt holding soccer drone

 “I didn’t think it would ever come this far,” said Helen Tran, who is the only junior on the team. She says she has had a long-held interest in Computer Science and knew almost nothing about drone soccer.  To prepare for the trip, she says she has,” learned a couple of phrases of Korean.”

boy in USA shirt holding soccer drone

“I like the competitiveness of it,” said senior Xavier Culp, who is the striker for the team. He was turned on to drone soccer by a school counselor who thought it would be a good fit for him. For Xavier, flying a drone is not just a sport, but also a possible career path. He already has his pilot’s license, which opens up all kinds of 21st century job opportunities. Like the other seniors on the team, Xavier will miss his high school graduation because he will be in South Korea at the time. His brother Zander, who is in second grade, will pick up his diploma for him at the graduation ceremony.

boy in USa shirt holding soccer drone

“I never imagined this would happen. It’s mind-blowing.”

That’s how Jonathon Villalobos describes his selection to the U.S. National team.

Jonathon was already involved in the Engineering and Aerospace pathway when he started to compete in drone soccer. He loves the competition, but that’s not the only benefit. He says that being a part of a team has helped him to develop needed social skills to have the ability to cooperate and communicate with his teammates.

boy in USA shirt holding soccer drone

“It’s intense.  I love the adrenaline rush and the team work involved in drone soccer,” said Luis Lechuga.

Like his teammates, Luis never envisioned that he would be playing a sport he loves on an international stage. He first took up drone soccer as a casual after-school club sport and fell in love with it. Luis says he is studying up on South Korea and learning more about the country every day.