Estevan Valerio comes from a wrestling family. His father, Gilbert Valerio, himself a two-time state champion, has been supportive of Estevan “in every way he possibly could be.”
At 8, Valerio added football to his sports arsenal, playing with the Taos Young America Football League. Even then he “liked hitting people,” something he’s become very good at doing.
In 8th grade his YAFL team went undefeated until the last game. Perhaps this taste of excellence prepared him for Abreu’s championship mindset. Valerio “always believed in Abreu.” He also claims to be Abreu's secret favorite, an exhibit of Valerio’s playful demeanor.
“I started off (high school) as an extremely immature individual,” he recounted. “Now I do my best to be a leader,” filling a void left last year when the team had many juniors but almost no seniors.
Assuming such roles can take a toll. In learning to manage the new stresses of leadership, Valerio turned to his mom, “a very spiritual woman.”
Dealing with adversity seems to be a Tiger specialty. Valerio learned from wrestling how to turn failure into growth.
It “humbles you and makes you better,” he said. Adding that “how we react to failure” was crucial to the Tiger football title, and especially to coming back from the loss to St. Pius. “We knew who we were,” he said.
Before each game “our team would walk the field. You could tell by the look in my teammates’ eyes they were there to play, and if they showed up, we’d win.”
They showed up.
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