Reyna Reyes: From Texas to Mexico’s National Team, All Roads Led to Alabama

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

A big part of Alabama soccer’s historic 2022 run, which has seen the team crack the top-five for the first time in program history, win the SEC West and reach the top spot in Rating Percentage Index, is senior midfielder and defender Reyna Reyes. 

From Garland, Texas, Reyes is in a three-way tie for second in goals on the team, has started every match and has been a constant threat for the Crimson Tide’s foes on both sides of the ball. 

In 2018, Reyes was splitting time between Mexico’s national team, club soccer and her school’s team at Naaman Forest High School. 

“Me and my mom started emailing different coaches, and within my timeline of how much time I had to go on visits, we ended up setting up a 10-day road trip,” Reyes said. “Alabama was actually my first school to come visit.” 

One of her club teammates at F.C. Dallas told her, “Reyna, don’t commit to the first school you go to. You’re going to want to. Don’t.” 

“I came on this visit, and I fell in love with the campus,” Reyes said. “I loved the girls — they were so welcoming and I loved the coaches. [Head coach] Wes [Hart] was great. I just got this feeling that Wes is a genuinely good guy and I know that he truly cares about his players and wants the best for this program.” 

She decided a month after the road trip to commit to Alabama. The Crimson Tide beat out Georgia and NC State. 

“I had it, probably, down to three schools,” Reyes said. “But, Alabama, I wanted to give it a chance. Wes made me believe that we could turn this thing around.” 

The rest, as they say, is history. 

Reyes made the All-SEC first team as a freshman while scoring three goals in 18 matches. The next year, she emerged as the team’s clutch performer by taking the lead in game-winners. In 2021, she added a further three goals and became the first Alabama player in two decades to be named to the United States Coaches Scholar All-America Second Team. She has made the All-SEC first team twice now. 

In 2022, absent Reyes’s services, the ongoing 16-match unbeaten streak would be shorter than it is. One of her six goals on the campaign was a game-tying score against Utah in a match the Crimson Tide nearly lost. She followed that with two more goals in as many games. 

“Reyna is a beast,” Hart said. “She is so important to this team. I can’t say enough good things about her.” 

A big part of Reyes coming into her own is her experience with the Mexican National Team. She has spent time playing at that level in high school and college, and she has played with the team during her time at Alabama. She started with the national team at the age of 14 in eighth grade. 

“Getting the chance to travel the world, play different teams, all different styles of soccer, it’s a blessing,” Reyes said. “Every soccer player wants to do that. You play at the highest peak that you can. In the U17 tournament, we got second in the World Cup. That’s unbelievable.” 

“I’ve gained so much, learned so much, throughout that process and I think that just transferred here, to give me a broader perspective of soccer and just to bring it here and help other players,” she said.  

She cited Spain, China and others as examples of teams with technical abilities that she wanted to show her teammates they can work towards. 

Her favorite national team game was in the U20 World Cup qualifiers against Haiti. 

“Our back line, we played the best defense I’ve ever seen,” Reyes said. “We were just working together, and it was so fun playing. And then winning that game, oh gosh, just the feeling.” 

In the summer of 2021, Reyes got to experience playing opposite the full United States National Team. She said this was a “wow moment” for her. 

“Those are players that I had looked up to when I was little, and I wanted to go play soccer, I wanted to be them,” Reyes said. “I was playing against Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, all of them, and I literally was guarding Megan Rapinoe.” 

Her mother, Carrie Reyes, has her Twitter header set to a picture of Reyes and Rapinoe on the pitch together. Reyna Reyes said she points to her mother as a source of major support throughout her soccer journey. 

“Throughout my whole process, that woman has been so strong,” Reyes said. “She has fought for me on many occasions and just supported me through everything. She’s definitely my strongest fan and I’m so grateful for her.” 

Reyes said being able to hang with the best in the world makes her less afraid, and she tries to pass this on to her teammates. 

“I’ve definitely told the girls when we’re having pep talks before the games, I always say, ‘Guys, just remember that it’s you against that girl. It doesn’t matter if she’s the SEC MVP last year or has scored this many goals, it doesn’t matter about that. What matters is every play, just winning your battle one at a time.’” 

“That’s what I always think before every game as well, so I think that helps me with my confidence,” she said. 

That confidence is high, along with the rest of the team — but Reyes and her teammates are far from done. 

“We’ll look at each other and be like, ‘Guys, we’re No. 2,’ or, ‘Guys, we’re in the top-10,’ but we knew that we were capable of this and now we finally put it together and we’re doing it. We obviously have more goals than this, but step by step, taking it game by game, this is actually achievable. We can do this. We can walk away with rings. There’s that potential, but we have to take it game by game,” Reyes said.  

Reyes and her teammates celebrated Senior Day on Sunday against Florida, and they will test themselves against rival Auburn to wrap up their remarkable regular season. Following that, the conference tournament awaits — and a potential run in the NCAA tournament. 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]