RBHS senior Manny Tovar has proven versatile during his four years at the varsity level, playing forward, defensive midfield and attacking midfield for the Bulldogs. (Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer)

Riverside-Brookfield High School senior midfielder Manny Tovar significantly added to his four-year varsity soccer achievements on Oct. 5.

The Bulldogs earned a share of the Metro Suburban Conference Blue championship, the program’s first conference title since 2015.

“To be on the walls of RB, it will be something that we’ll remember forever,” Tovar said. “Especially since I’ve been [on varsity] for four years, this was like my last chance, and I finally got it.”

Another historic honor may be coming soon.

Tovar hopes to become the Bulldogs’ first all-state player. If not, he should become what is believed to be their first multiple all-sectional player.

“[All-sectional in 2021] was a great feeling, but I feel like I’m more of a team-based player,” Tovar said. “I would love team achievements at the same time. An individual thing also represents the team. I couldn’t have done that without the other guys from last year.”

Tovar especially would love to replicate the Bulldogs’ 2019 regional title run. An attacking central midfielder, Tovar (7 goals, 10 assists) often is in the middle of the action for the Bulldogs (11-8). 

“He’s just one of those special players that players gravitate to, coaches love,” RBHS coach Ivek Halic said. “Just his work ethic, his leadership, his quality on the ball, off the ball, reading the game.”

Tovar has had different roles each season. His experience and talent have given him the ability to “free roam” this season.

“Having the ball at your feet is one of the best feelings and just dribbling it, feeling the cold breeze, usually, especially during the fall season,” Tovar said. “Having good teammates with you, it’s just a fun experience.”

As a freshman, Tovar played forward and delivered a season-best 15 goals.

Tovar became a playmaking forward as a sophomore and a defensive-focused central midfielder in 2021.

“Coming in as a freshman, it was pretty scary,” Tovar said. “But a bunch of the seniors, the entire team was really cool, really welcoming.”

Tovar was raised with soccer. His father, Manuel, is the freshman B coach at Morton and on the Wall of Fame at Morton’s east campus. Uncle Abelino Tovar coaches Morton’s freshman A team. 

“It’s funny because I’ve lived [in North Riverside] across the street from Morton,” Tovar said. 

Another uncle was among Tovar’s coaches for the Mayas FC club team with many former and current Morton players. In 2018, Tovar played for the Mayas 04 team that captured a U.S. Club Soccer national championship.

Tovar hopes to play in college and eventually coach. 

“That’s probably my dream,” Tovar said. “I feel like I get a lot of lessons from [my father and uncles], not only on the field but off the field, how to become a better player but also a better person. That’s the message I want to send as a coach, life lessons.”    

Of Mexican heritage, Tovar participates in OLAS (Organization of Latin American Students) and the Spanish Club at RBHS.

He grew up rooting for Mexico’s national team and the U.S. as its team improved internationally. Both nations qualified for the World Cup finals in November.

“I’ll just root for all of North America to represent – Canada, Mexico, the U.S. It’s good that all three could qualify,” Tovar said.