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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Kaiserlautern High School junior Paris Cervantes is an All-Europe, Olympic Development Program Region I all-star striker whose soccer talents, particularly her speed and ball-handling skills, are beyond question.

In the words of her coach, Brant Tryon, Cervantes is “one of the most, if not the most, skilled forwards in Europe.”

But Cervantes, a Californian who’s being groomed for a leadership role in her final season with the Lady Raiders, doesn’t want to be the next Mia Hamm.

She wants to be a Marine.

“I’m looking at joining the military,” Cervantes said Tuesday when asked about her future plans in her sport.

“Not everyone can be a Marine, so that’s the way I’m leaning.”

If there’s a USMC recruiter reading this, he or she would be well-advised to stay close to Cervantes. The Corps won’t encounter many prospects as desirable as this one.

Looking for gung-ho desire?

“I wanted to join their special forces, until I found out women weren’t allowed to,” she said disappointedly.

Burning desire to be the best?

“When I’m on the field, I get so caught up in the game that sometimes my communications with my teammates are too intense,” she said. “I’m working on being more positive.”

Natural leadership?

“As a player, Paris is so skilled that people naturally look up to her,” Tryon said. “Paris is probably going to be our No. 1 leader this year as a junior.”

Depth of commitment?

“I’d consider an offer to play soccer in college,” she admitted. But she also said, “I’ve never seen myself sitting behind a desk all my life. I like to be more active.”

Dedication to teamwork?

“Sometimes Coach Tryon lets me work with players of lesser skill,” she said. “I like being able to pass something along to them.”

Between now and the Marines, there’s soccer to play. Cervantes, fresh off a summer stint with the ODP all-stars in New Jersey — “The level of competition there was eye-opening,” she said — is looking forward to trying to add a Division I soccer championship to the one the Lady Raiders won last month in basketball.

“We haven’t lost too many people,” said Cervantes, who’s been playing soccer since she was 4. “And we have a lot of new girls on the team who can help us.

“We came so close last year (a 1-0 loss to eventual champion Ramstein in the semifinals) it makes everyone want to go for it this year.”

Cervantes, who said she’ll spend her senior year in El Paso, Texas, had nothing but praise for her stay in Kaiserslautern.

“I like K-town,” she said. “It’s always more of a challenge to play for the smallest school in the division. It might be easier to win at Ramstein (largest school in the division), but I enjoy playing here.”

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