It is 3:45 p.m. and school has just let out. Practice is not until 4:15 p.m. and most of the kids are talking with friends, grabbing a snack or unwinding from a long school day. The team locker room is empty except for one student, Ramone Guerrero. Ramone is hard at work filling water bottles, double checking the medical kit and bringing out the equipment that coach will need for a successful practice. This is Ramon’s routine for football, basketball and baseball. And no, Ramone is not a water boy or team manager. He is a student athlete, who practices with the team everyday and looks forward to some game time, just like any other kid. Except, unlike any other kid, Ramone does the work to put team first. “If we had a team of kids like him, with his heart, it would be something special. He is something special. When a kid works hard like he does, it makes you want to see him succeed, you’ll do what you can to get him the ball, to give him a shot out there,” stated Coach Kenny Vargas when asked about Ramone’s efforts on the basketball team.
You see, Ramone does not get the chance to play as much as some of the other kids. His mother, Reena Guerrero explains, “It has to do with his medical health overall. More than anything he knows what it is like to be laid up and not contribute. Also, to see others that are worse off or in a similar health situation who do not have the opportunities he does.” Reena continues, “when he was three, we found out that he would need a wheelchair as he got older, due to his weak bones.” Ramone would spend a lot of time in hospitals and in recovery. “It was at that point that I made a promise to Ramone and a promise to myself that we were going to give him the most normal life possible. A normal childhood for a boy to us meant; soccer, basketball, baseball and all the musical plays we could handle. In seventh grade, Ramone met Mr. Norriega. Coach Norriega took a chance on a child who couldn’t play much on the field, due to medical issues, but had the drive and dedication to be a part of a team. From there more and more coaches gave him the opportunity.” Reena expounded as the whole gravity of the situation became clearer.
Ramone Guerrero was never meant to walk into high school, nevertheless be an active part of the three major sports programs. But here he is today, defying the odds with his heroic efforts. This last football season, Ramone was awarded the Vandal Football MVP. The most valuable player on the team. In a year where the QB set a single game passing record for Arizona and where a receiver scored 80-yard touchdowns almost every game. Ramone Guerrero was voted by the coaches, the staff and the players as the MVP of that team. I asked Ramone what motivated him to work this hard and his response was; “To make my family proud. My great grandma died back in 2013 and I wanted to show her what a kind young man I have become. I want to prove to my friends and family that I can be a better person every day.”
All the desire and ‘heart’ in the world can not fix broken bones and as of right now, Ramone is looking at a possible ankle surgery. The Silver Belt asked Ramone how he handles the disappointment of sitting out; “I have learned not to lose my cool. I am down with my ankle for two weeks, but I will be back after the Christmas break.” Even with his history and a surgery looming, he still motivates himself to come back and play with a positive attitude. While still being cautions, “I have learned not to push my body to where I can not handle the pain. I realize coach will play me depending on the situation and the score.” Ramone continues, “It is a tough choice but If I had to pick a favorite sport, it would be basketball, so I am anxious to get out there and play.”
The Miami Vandals are in the middle of a decent season. Ramone gets his playing time during the Junior Varsity games, but he is a big part of the Varsity team as well. When coaches ask Ramone how they are going to replace him when he graduates, he always has the same response.
“It is going to take at least three guys to do what I do coach.” It is a funny joke that makes everyone laugh and just like most jokes in life, it is funny because it is true.