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A Chance At Soccer South of the Border

Jan. 5, 2011

Story by Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Reporting from San Diego -- The first time Natalie Vinti took the field with Mexico's national soccer team, her arms were covered with more ink than those of an NBA point guard.

Only Vinti's Magic Marker tattoos weren't paeans to friends, family or the old neighborhood. They were one-word commands in Spanish such as fuera (out) and sola (alone), a kind of bare-skin Berlitz to help her communicate with teammates.

"I can't formulate the words fast enough in my head in Spanish," said Vinti, whose understanding of the language at the time went only slightly beyond the menu at Taco Bell. "When they ask me a question, I'd just respond in English."

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