Oklahoma’s own Chris Wondolowski elevates team USA in World Cup

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Soccer fever is spreading wildly through the country and through the state.

But there’s one member of team USA making a name for a local Native American tribe.

Chris Wondolowski, #18, is a proud Kiowa with a big family right here in Oklahoma.

Wondlowski’s family says the forward’s first word as a baby was ball as he kicked soccer balls in diapers. Even the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma knew to expect big things from him.

Thousands of miles away from the field in Brazil, there’s an entire tribe of cheerleaders rooting for Wondolowski.

His aunt Amy Cozad says, “He’s our boy and we just love to see him play.”

Keith Vasquez with the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma says, “This is the coolest thing. I think Chris Wondolowski is the most famous Kiowa in the world right now.”

“We’re just waiting for him to step out there,” says Cozad.

He’s on the world stage now, but Wondolowski’s grandfather Bill Elliott still thinks of him as “Little Chris”.

“Of course when you’re a grandfather you glue onto anything about your grand kids,” says Elliott.

They’ve watched his passion for soccer take him all over the world, but those close to him say his roots will always be here in Oklahoma.

“He’s really proud of being Kiowa,” says Cozad. “His Indian name is ‘Bau Daigh’ and that means warrior coming over the hill.”

The tribe thinks the warrior in “Wondo” is inspiring young Kiowa’s to follow in his footsteps.

“Everybody needs heroes. He right now is a hero for the Kiowa tribe,” says Keith Vasquez.

“When he’s off the field, he’s the best man you want to be around,” says Elliot. “He’s a good role model.”

“He loves to strategize with the guys and make sure that they all share in the victory,” says Cozad. “It’s not just that one out there it’s the team.”

As the team advances, they try not to let their nerves get the best of them knowing the world is watching their “Wondo”.

Elliott says, “Yeah that’s special.”

They didn’t get to see Wondolowski on the field today but they’ll have more opportunities as team USA advances, playing Belgium on Tuesday.

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