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Trust The Process & Embrace The Chase

"It’s an opportunity that never would’ve been possible if I decided to give it up."

~ Captain Ryan Gonzales

Growing up I’ve always been a very active kid and that led me to play many sports at a young age. Over the years I’ve played lacrosse, soccer, basketball, football and I’ve even ran track and field. Ultimately once I got to 5th grade, I realized my true passion was through playing both basketball and football, which I’m still continuing to play today. Both sports I cherish and love with all my heart, but it hasn’t always been that way.

I’ve always been one of the youngest kids in my class, and that said I was always one of the smaller kids as well. Being smaller I wouldn't say necessarily is a disadvantage; you just have to focus on being a lot better at the little things. Whether that’s always boxing out every possession in basketball, or running through the line every time when you're running sprints, or even just putting in 100% effort no matter the situation. You don’t realize how impactful you can be simply just by giving it your all all the time. I’ve learned that what separates you isn’t necessarily how well you can shoot the ball, or how well you can throw the ball, or even how athletic you are, it’s how good your work ethic is. Even after a long day at school, then going to practice, then doing homework; you still gotta get extra work late at night a couple days a week, and I’ve struggled with doing that a lot of the time because I haven't felt like I needed it or I’ve been too tired. Those times that I skipped the opportunity to get the extra reps is me not holding myself accountable. I've asked myself numerous times if I’m willing to sacrifice my body to not only benefit from it now, but also see the positive results in the future.

Through my time playing basketball I’ve gotten frustrated because I’ve been stuck doing what I thought at the time was the “dirty work” of getting someone else open. When I was younger I was always the best player, but as time has gone on I’ve seen my role change. There's been times where I’ve given the ball up, and I never get it back that possession. I’ve been the guy cutting to the basket or setting a screen when others are getting the glory of getting the bucket. There’s been times where I don’t touch the ball for multiple possessions in a row, but I soon realized that that doesn't mean I’m not impacting the game. Whether it's making the assist, getting a rebound, playing full court defense, or even every once in a while taking a charge. I will always be the first type of player because I know that that’s how your team starts to succeed. At the end of the day it doesn't matter how well your stats look, it matters if your team wins. And everyone wants to win, and that’s what it might take sometimes not to win. It might not always be fun. You're gonna feel like you let yourself down with your performance because your chances were limited and maybe you didn’t take advantage of them.

This last season I had two chances to win the game with a shot, both times I missed... failure. I thought I had failed when really I had succeeded just by being in the game at that moment. I was completely down on myself but both times I was able to get over it quickly knowing I played a great game, and knowing there were so many other chances to win those games. I went into the season as a JV player and came out of it as a varsity starter on a team with the best player in the state. I went from being the scout team player doing all the work nobody wants to do, to being the player who everyone is competing to be. Seeing other kids that I know get interest from colleges and some even get offers makes me realize that what I’m doing isn’t good enough and that pushes me to be that much better and to maximize my ability. I’ve been on club teams where we haven't been a great team. We keep it close for a while and then we end up getting blown out game after game. I was able to get my glory a lot of times but it didn’t feel nearly as good because in my mind I wasn’t really gaining anything. I would yell at my teammates in frustration when those were the type of moments to really lead. That’s what I changed over this last year of playing club. I realized at the end of the day it’s just a game, and yes you wanna win, but it’s more important just to focus on improving and continuing to build not only as a player but as a person.

"A coach once told me that every decision you make either gets you closer or farther from your goal..."

Coming into this football season I honestly didn’t think I was going to play. The last few years I had had lots of fun at times, but there’s also been times that haven't been fun and have made me wonder if it’s really worth this much work for such little reward. My sophomore year I was stuck being backup cornerback all year where I got in an average of five plays a game, mostly special teams. I felt like my true potential wasn’t being unlocked. By week 7 I was just going through the motions through each practice when one day I was given the chance to start that week because both of our corners were out with injuries. That game I ended up having two interceptions, multiple pass deflections, and I really couldn’t have played any better. It was at that point that I realized it didn’t matter how little I’d actually led up to this point, but how much opportunity there was for the future. This year we’ve had multiple coaching changes, multiple key pieces graduated, and I felt like we lacked a true identity coming into the season. But I’ve been given the huge blessing of being quarterback even through it all. The last time I played quarterback was 8th grade, but I didn’t let that slow me down at all. It’s been nothing but excitement jumping into a new system, position, and an opportunity that I never would have imagined would even be a thought. It’s an opportunity that never would’ve been possible if I decided to give it up.

I’ve always been someone who does everything to my very best ability. I always thought coming into high school that there would be a point that I’d have to give up one sport, and every year I’ve thought the same thing. Through playing two sports I’ve realized you have to give up time with friends and you have to miss out on fun things because that’s the only way you continue to grow as a high school player. The last few years I’ve dealt with multiple ankle injuries and that’s set me back over and over again making me think that maybe I’d have to give up at least one if not both sports, but each time I’ve come back with a better and more positive mindset that I’m going to get through this. My work has paid off and that’s allowed me to now play a key role on varsity in both sports. A coach once told me that every decision you make either gets you closer or farther from your goal, and through my two main points of confidence and hard work I’m gonna make as many good decisions as I can to get me to that goal.


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