By John Philip Wyllie
When Carlos Velarde joined Carl Parrick’s Bonita Vista Baron football team several years ago, he did so with some lofty expectations to live up to both on and off the field. His father (Carlos Sr.) was born in Mexico, raised in Logan Heights and selected as a National Football Foundation Hall of Famer. Four years later he graduated from Harvard University.
“I remember he told me back then that someday his son would play for me,” Parrick recalled. That someday has arrived.
The younger Velarde is a starting linebacker on Parrick’s (9-1) Mesa League Champion football team. A week ago, Velarde and the rest of the Baron defense, limited the high scoring sixth ranked Eastlake Titans to a single touchdown in a title-clinching 14-7 victory. Quite a remarkable feat considering that in their preceding four victories the playoff-bound Titans (8-2) had averaged 56 points per game.
The Barons have a bye this weekend, but could face a rematch with archrival Eastlake next weekend if the favored Titans defeat Fallbrook tonight on their home turf.
Velarde will be ready no matter which foe he faces.
“He is a fantastic youngster. His grades of course, mean more to him than anything and that is how it should be, but he does a great job for us on the field,” Parrick said. “He is very steady.”
“I may not be the best player or even the best linebacker on this team, but I try to contribute by showing the other players that they can count on me. My biggest contribution is probably that a lot of my peers see me as an academic leader. I try to show them that if you work hard you can get some decent grades and be successful in whatever you do.”
Like his father, Velarde would like to attend an Ivy League school.
“My parents never really pressured me to get straight “A”s, but knowing that I had the potential to be a good academic student, I didn’t want to waste what God has given me. My parents were the only ones in their families that went to college. I have ten cousins and I feel that it is my duty to be an example to them and show them that if you work hard you will be successful.”
Strong in the areas of math and science, Velarde is leaning toward the field of engineering next year when he enrolls in college.
“From what I have heard, a lot of people go into college not really knowing what they want to do. I am hoping that I will discover my passion (in college) and take it from there.”
“My parents came to this country to get better jobs and to improve their living status. They have always told me to consider myself an American and abide by the rules, but to never forget my culture. I was born in Logan Heights in a Hispanic community and we still go back there to visit my grandfather. My parents never want to forget my roots and the day to day struggle they had in becoming Americans.”