Cruz Gomez is a graduate of PSJA Memorial High School in Alamo, Texas. The future University of Texas student-athlete writes about his time in the RGV and reflects upon what the sport has meant for him and those in his community.
"A simple state gold might not sound like a big deal to some people, but for me and my coach it was, and being together for the past four years helped us create a bond and a reward that was far more meaningful than the medal itself." -- Cruz Gomez
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Distance runners in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas don't have many opportunities.
Most of us come from the colonias (poor neighborhoods) located around the bank of the Rio Grande, which is often seen as the dividing line between the border of the U.S. and Mexico. Our parents only make enough money to put food on the table and pay the bills.
So from a very young age we have learned what we've needed to do, and we've worked very hard to get away from all of that. For us, the only way out was to get a college education.
You provided us with this opportunity.
Through running, some of us have gotten recruited and will now have our college tuitions paid for.
You haven't always been easy, but in the end you've always been fun, and we can thank the roads we've run over that time in helping us get there. Ultimately, you have given me an incredible opportunity to travel the U.S. to races such as Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, California, and Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon. These are places I once only dreamed of competing at. I used to watch these races from home, on the seat of my bed, wondering if I would ever make it some day.
For the short four years that I have ran cross country and track and field, I've always had the same goal and the same mentality of wanting to become the best. I qualified for Texas' state championship meets in all four of my seasons in both cross country and track, but I would always come short at the end.
It hung on me for a long time. And for as well as I would race, the near misses were just as devastating. Ultimately, by my last appearance, and in one of my final races of my track and field career, it finally happened. It took me eight appearances to finally bring a gold medal back to the RGV and to the city that I love, the city of Alamo.
A simple state gold might not sound like a big deal to some people, but for me and my coach it was, and being together for the past four years helped us create a bond and a reward that was far more meaningful than the medal itself. It was a symbol of hope -- not only for me, but for all those runners in the RGV, and all the future generations ahead of us.
So I have to thank you. I've had the opportunity to meet many runners from different parts of the U.S. that have the same goals as me, and because of you I've created friendships that will last a life time.
You've taught me that nothing worth having comes easy, and that if you really want to be successful you have to work harder than everybody else.
Most importantly, you have taught me that success does not come over night.
I'll always remember what you've represented for me and what you've meant for the RGV. From all of us to you, I just want to thank you.
Alamo PSJA Memorial, '19