Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
Kansas State freshman midfielder Dora Gallo knows all about taking shots. Though tied for second on the team in goals, and solely in third in points, Gallo has taken more shots than anyone on the team, including goals and points leader sophomore forward Tatum Wagner. She leads in the category by at least five over every teammate, 23-18 in the case of her numbers versus Wagner’s.
She didn’t always take so many though, Gallo said. Originally she would pass a lot during games and rarely shoot, but would shoot more in practice.
“One of my coaches told me ‘you need to shoot more,'” Gallo said. “It wasn’t until probably high school when I started shooting.”
If you asked Gallo, she would probably tell you shooting was not her favorite part of soccer. Instead, she would likely tell you that she likes everything, but her favorite thing about soccer is what makes it one of the most popular sports in the world: the culture.
“Soccer brings everybody together, so I kind of like that,” Gallo said. “Soccer’s played all around the world.”
Head coach Mike Dibbini said some of Gallo’s best attributes are her offensive mentality and her vision of the field.
“(Gallo’s) the type of player that she can create a lot of offense with one pass,” Dibbini said. “Her ability to dribble and look for a shot is very, very good, and she has that ability to unbalance defenses with her offensive ability.”
Wagner said she enjoys playing with Gallo.
“As a forward, it’s really fun playing with Dora because she knows exactly where to pass it,” Wagner said.
Dibbini said Wagner was right about Gallo’s ability to know where to pass the ball.
“I would say her offensive IQ is pretty high,” Dibbini said. “Dora knows how to calm us when we need to be calm, and knows how to turn it up when we need to be turned up in terms of the offensive pressure. She knows when to switch the point of attack, she knows when to go through the middle, she knows when to take shots and force the defense to stay honest. She’s basically kind of like the point guard on offense.”
Wagner also said Gallo is a great teammate.
“I think Dora’s hilarious and I think everyone (on the team) thinks Dora’s hilarious,” Wagner said.
One of the funniest things about Gallo is being around her before a game, Wagner said.
“Before a game, Dora has her headphones in and you can like hear the music,” Wagner said. “It’s like Spanish music. It’s all Spanish.”
Gallo said she started playing organized soccer when she was around 8 or 9 years old. She grew up in Wichita, and lettered in soccer three years at Wichita North High School. She picked up soccer because many of her family members were soccer fans and players.
“Before that, I just played at school with all the boys or outside with the neighborhood kids or with my cousins,” Gallo said. “I think I started playing when I was maybe 4.”
Gallo said one of her favorite memories growing up was going to a soccer tournament in Las Vegas that included teams from Mexico and Texas. As a high school freshman, she said she was the youngest member on her team at the tournament. It was the first time she had been so far from home.
“It was the first time I had been on a plane,” Gallo said. “I remember we were playing the team from Mexico, and it was a really close game. I got a free kick and I scored it, and that’s how we won the game.”
Being a soccer player wasn’t always easy for Gallo, though. She said it was often hard for her family to attend games. Her father, Jose, often had to work, and her two younger siblings often made it difficult for her mother, Maria, to attend games.
Still, she said she always knew her parents supported her and that she could turn to them if she needed. Gallo said she found even more support by growing closer to her teammates and coaches.
“I would always travel with my coaches and all the other girls (whose) parents couldn’t go,” Gallo said. “My coach was like my second dad, and I can still say that to this day.”