Senior column: Growing pains


Ed Grijalva, Staff Writer

Imagine losing your backpack, getting your phone stolen and almost breaking your glasses all in one day of school. The situation I just described was my very first day of school at Rochester High. I’ve come a long way since that first day of school and while there are some things I wish I would’ve done differently, I’m happy with the young adult I have become.

Freshman year is probably the year I remember the least, but it may have been the most important. Coming into freshman year, I was not the most confident person; I rarely went out of my comfort zone. But during the course of the year, certain events and people really set the tone for how the rest of my high school career would go. The most impactful period for me during that year was freshman basketball. The happiest moment of my four years of playing basketball at Rochester was during this season when I scored 24 points and hit game-winning free throws to win the game. It was after that game that I became exuberantly more confident. And that confidence would carry over off the court. It may have been temporary confidence at the time, but that would eventually transform into lasting real self-confidence. But that game wasn’t the most important aspect of the season; it was my coach.

At the time I viewed my basketball coach, Mr. Lima Pereira, as just an old guy that was too harsh and critical to his players, and too quick to tell them to get on the line and run. But that’s because I didn’t understand back then; I didn’t know how to handle constructive criticism. Coach Pereira was the first coach I ever had, whether it be in basketball or soccer, that really pushed me and my teammates to be better players and young men.  He made me tougher and for that I will forever be grateful.

Sophomore year might have been the most stressful time of my high school career. I experienced my first high school “heartbreak,” took APUSH and went through many other experiences. It was during this year that I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to be successful whether it be in the classroom, the field, or in life. When it comes to being successful in the classroom, I’d like to thank Mr. Chad Zwolinski. APUSH was easily the most beneficial class I’ve taken at Rochester; it turned me from a good student into an exceptional student and it was the first high school course that actually challenged me. Mr. Z. radiates confidence in his work and it’s something that rubs off on his students.

When I changed soccer clubs during my sophomore year, the first time in eight years, I went from playing for a team that simply wasn’t very good, to playing for a team that would be ranked as high as 5th in the state for my age group during my stint with Pato’s Magic Soccer. I was always used to being the one of the best players on a team that was either average or just good and when I made the cut for this one, it was evident I was just another guy on the team. However, this team was special; some of the guys had been playing together for years and it was truly a family. This family taught me what it takes to be a winner, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for this family and my crazy coach, Pato Margetic.

Junior year was my least favorite year of all in high school. I played both varsity basketball and soccer that year and I didn’t get as much playing time as I would have liked in both. And it’s never fun to be a part of a basketball team that goes the entire season without a win. However, I learned something at least from the whole experience and that was patience. Success doesn’t come overnight and sometimes you just have to wait your turn and keep on working. I also learned who the important people in my life are during this year.

Senior year was nothing short of spectacular. There are people I would specifically like to thank.

I’d like to thank Daylily Park, for being the venue of many basketball games and videos shot during my high school career. Shoutout to all the Daylily ballers as well; the court isn’t special without the players.

I’d like to thank Mr. Merlo for putting in so much effort into athletics at RHS through his weight lifting programs and for his seemingly infinite supply of chocolate milk. His lifting program also gave me a good base for lifting on my own time, so I don’t look like a complete scrub at Lifetime Fitness.

I’d like to thank the boys from BPA, you guys made states in Grand Rapids one to remember.

I’d like to thank both the soccer and basketball teams for amazing seasons and always making practice and games memorable.

I’d like to thank Coach Pleasant for being a teacher of high character and Coach Topie for reminding me how fun basketball can be.

I’d like to thank Mrs. Satterthwaite for letting me join The Talon without taking the prerequisite classes and for simply being an awesome human being. You will truly be missed; have fun in California!

I’d like to thank Bailey Webb for a key part in my life these past two years. You’re one of the good ones.

Last but not least, I want to thank the entire senior class of 2016. I love every single one of you. We’re all going to go through different paths in our lives now, maybe crossing paths along the way or maybe never seeing each other ever again aside from the occasional social media post. However, we’ll always have that special connection of being an Rochester Falcon.