Home Away From Home

Home Away From Home

Javier Arce-Ramirez is often traveling between two countries. They are separated by the Atlantic Ocean and a little over 4,000 miles, located in places with stark differences in language and culture, but for the 20-year-old, both are home.

As one of two international student-athletes on the Jacksonville University football team, Javier was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, and currently lives in St. Augustine, Florida.

"I came here my sophomore year of high school, and was supposed to stay for a year, but ended up liking my host family too much," he said. "My host mom heard about the process while she was at church, and she felt it was the right time for her to do it." 

The Warrens welcomed Javier to their family when he was 15 years old. His host mother rarely misses a home game at JU, and if it weren't for his host brother, he may have never attended.

Would you believe the Dolphin kicker had never touched a football until his junior year of high school? He spent most of his life on a soccer field, and the idea of playing any other sport, especially at the collegiate level, was the furthest from his mind.

"I had never touched a football before. My host brother was a running back for our high school team, and I went to pick him up from practice one day. The head coach said they needed a kicker for the year after, and he tried me out. I started kicking from 40 and 45 [yards] out on my first time.

"They saw I had a good leg and put me in contact with Coach Dan Lundy at One-on-One Kicking. He's worked with several NFL kickers, and continues to do so during the offseason. I didn't even play soccer my senior year because I knew I wanted to devote all my time in football. I guess it's worked out."

Five years later, Javier continues to achieve success in the classroom and on the playing field. A season ago, he ranked fourth in the nation in field goal percentage while also recording a 3.67 grade point average. The numbers earned him Pioneer Football League honors on its second team and academic honor roll.

The accomplishments are no surprise to his parents, who cheer him on every Saturday.

"They've never seen me play football, but they watch all of my games on ESPN3. They stay up until like 3 a.m. which is when the games start over there. During preseason, my mom would call me every day to check on me."

Javier flies to Spain every summer and Christmas break, and has weekly dinners with his host family. When he's unable to spend time with them, his brothers on the football team pick up the slack.

Homesickness can be cured by a simple conversation with linebacker and roommate Thomas Oporto, a jam session with quarterback Rylan Wells or by hanging out with his best friend on the team defensive lineman Chris Jones.

"Rylan is one of the few people who likes my music," he joked. "We have a lot of common hobbies. We both play golf and tennis, and love soccer. We watched the championship from Real Madrid at his house yesterday."

Javier may not live in Spain at the moment, but he has certainly found a home away from home.