Fifth-year senior midfielder Adrian Corona’s most notable achievement in his football career is winning the Mid-American Conference championship in 2021, but he believes his greatest achievement is yet to come.
Corona was born and raised in Plainfield, Illinois. He started playing competitive football at the age of 7 when his father enrolled him in the American Youth Soccer Organization. Growing up, soccer was the only sport Corona played competitively. He played other sports such as football, basketball and kickball for recreational purposes.
Corona’s favorite football player is Paris Saint-Germain FC striker and modern football legend Lionel Messi. When Corona started watching football, Messi was the first player he saw.
“The way Messi dribbled, passed and scored was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Corona said. “I try to model my game after Messi.”
Corona said his favorite football position was in midfield.
Corona was a member of the Chicago Fire Academy team from 2015 to 2019. He described the academy’s coaching as top notch and that they prepared him for college.
“It was an amazing experience, and it’s a very professional setting where everyone is focused on the football, there are no distractions,” Corona said.
Corona was invited to visit NIU by the previous coaching scheme. The proximity of home campus played a big part in Corona’s decision to join the Huskies. He said he wanted to have family nearby so they could attend his games. Plainfield is one hour south of DeKalb.
Head coach Ryan Swan explained how he saw Corona’s potential when recruiting him.
“We thought he was ready to play at the college level because of his technical skills and his desire to compete,” Swan said. “He was a competitive person, and that’s why we signed him.”
Swan said Corona came to NIU and immediately claimed the starting spot and has been an important player since joining the team.
“I’ve seen a growth in his leadership role and his responsibility, and I think he’s coming out to be a good leader for us,” Swan said.
Swan said when the coaches have an internal discussion about who they think is NIU’s Player of the Year, Corona is always in discussion.
Corona’s role model is her father. He has a big influence on Corona because his father didn’t get a chance to play competitive football because he didn’t have the support of his own parents. Corona says his dad has been the most supportive since he started playing football.
Corona said that when he’s down, his dad lifts him up and gives him the confidence to carry on. His dad always tells him that if he has a bad game or a bad experience, he’ll be fine.
Corona’s father would tell her that her worst times will be learning times.
“It’s just a game, it doesn’t define who you are and it’s going to help you grow as a person and a player,” Corona’s father said.
Corona used to go to games to make her dad proud, but now her main motivation is to keep succeeding and having fun playing.
He chose midfield as his primary position because he said you can attack, defend and control the game.
“The midfielders are very involved in the game, and they dictate the tempo and who controls the game,” Corona said.
He said these aspects would see him continue playing in midfield throughout his football career.
Corona enjoys going to the NIU Recreation Center to play basketball and pickle ball in her spare time. He enjoys watching anime, movies, and sports. Corona’s favorite anime is Hunter x Hunter.
He enjoys going to concerts such as Lollapalooza and hopes to go to the Summer Smash festival in Chicago in the future.
Corona also plays for Summer League side Kalamazoo Football Club along with teammate, redshirt senior forward Enrique Banuelos during the offseason.
Banuelos described Corona as a team player.
“He’s a player you can always rely on on the pitch no matter what,” Banuelos said. “He’s massive support for the balance of the team, both defensively and offensively.”
Corona is majoring in business administration and thinks her major can take her in a variety of directions.
“I chose business administration because it’s a jack-of-all-trades between the majors,” Corona said. “You can take courses in marketing, finance, and OMIS (operations management and information systems), and it gives you scope in each of those different majors.”
Corona said if the football dreams didn’t work out, he had a job lined up to work with his brother at AT&T.
Corona’s ultimate goal is to play professional football. He said he planned to give himself six months to find a professional team to sign him after graduation.