Story and photo by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
After a three-year journey in which he transformed from a red shirt freshman to the conference player of the year, College of the Canyons sophomore forward Aaron Winsick has committed to continuing his soccer career at nearby California Lutheran University.
"It's amazing," said Winsick. "I've been playing soccer since I was four years old and I've always wanted to play college soccer, so this is a great opportunity."
The Saugus High School product arrived at College of the Canyons in the summer of 2015 after a two-year stint with Centurion varsity team not knowing what his role with the Cougars would be.
Winsick took a red shirt season his first semester at Canyons and instead of preparing to play each week delved into the team's strength and conditioning program, while continuing to practice and hone his skills.
That work paid off, and by the next fall Winsick began to emerge as one of COC head coach Phil Marcellin's key contributors, scoring three goals to earn an All-Western State Conference (WSC) Honorable Mention nod as a freshman.
But it wasn't until his sophomore campaign that Winsick really came into his own.
"It's a great story," said Marcellin. "Aaron came in here and red-shirted his first year, then played kind of a part time role, then became a really key player for us down the stretch. He went from a guy that you would use in situations to a guy that you relied upon because of the number of goals he put in."
Winsick finished his Cougar career by scoring six goals in the final three games of the 2017 season, including a three-goal output vs. conference rival Bakersfield College that resulted in a 3-2 win for Canyons.
"He's a very flamboyant player, he scored some goals that were just magnificent," added Marcellin. "But he's also a guy that just shows up and does his job."
Despite starting just seven games Winsick tied for the team lead with nine goals and added an assist to finish with 19 points across 19 contests. He also led COC with 41 total shots, and 25 shots on goal.
Those numbers earned Winsick co-Player of the Year honors alongside freshman midfielder Sergio Gonzalez (seven goals and five assists) of Citrus College, the conference champion. In doing so, Winsick became the first Cougar to be named Player of the Year since former COC student-athlete Andres Bueno earned the honor outright after the 2009 season.
"It's really great to see that kind of a transformation," said Marcellin. "He's a great example. A case of perseverance and work ethic and some old school values, and it's awesome to see that.