Signing day for the Bolanos family wasn’t a signing day. It was a culmination of family bonding, surviving, crying, fighting and treasuring just one more day together. It was about a senior high-school student having to grow up faster and worry about being strong for his dad and family; it was about a family just being thankful and counting the blessings of today.
For the Bolanos family, watching son Victor sign his National Letter of Intent Tuesday to pursue his dreams and grow into manhood amid all that has happened to them in the last couple of years shows what love and family mean.
Those two ingredients brought a community and family together, as Victor Bolanos was celebrated by friends, players and coaches who came to cheer his decision to play football for New Mexico Military Institute next fall.
“Victor comes from a great family,” NMMI coach Joe Forchtner said. “He’s also a Roswell native. He’s a big kid and will be able to help us on the offensive line next year.”
When members of the Gadsden High School football team watched film of the Roswell Coyotes playing against other teams, opponents would watch Coyotes’ left tackle Victor Bolanos and think, he’s just big.
Every lineman Bolanos went up against wanted to test him and themselves to prove big doesn’t make a football player. However, it wasn’t big that told the story of the tenacity and domination Bolanos played with his senior season.
Size doesn’t begin to tell the story of the faces opponents would make when they broke the huddle and lined up against him for the first series of the game. Bolanos played bigger than his advertised 6-foot-2, 300 pounds.
He had the quickness of a cat off the ball and the strength of a vise once he was able to get his hands on the man across from him. Many times during a play, Bolanos would pancake a lineman in front of him and head to the next level to attack a linebacker or defensive back.
To get to signing day, Bolanos first had to adjust his attitude as a freshman. He thought things would come easily to him, but Coyotes assistant coach David Lynn and head coach Jeff Lynn laid down the law and let him know that everything he would get on the football field would be earned.
“It means a lot to me,” Victor Bolanos said. “My dad (Ruben) played at the next level and that is something I wanted to do. It means a lot to my mom and dad to come see me play.”
One of the differences between his junior year and his senior year was the intensity of his returning four linemen. In his junior year, RHS had a lot of returning seniors and he wasn’t called on to lead. He was trying to fit in.
As a senior on the line, he was a leader on the line. He made line calls and played with other linemans who were skilled and gave opponents fits as the Coyotes set records in rushing. With another year of playing together, each of the linemen knew what the other would do at the snap of the ball.
“As a senior, he grew into that leadership role,” RHS coach Jeff Lynn said.
Another factor was Bolanos’ dedication in the weight room. He put on muscle and added 35 to 40 pounds on his lifts.
One reason Bolanos chose NMMI over other schools was his desire to hit the books hard so that he can become a game warden. He likes that his family will be able to visit him when they want to, and when he has free time he can go home for a meal.
“The opportunity,” Ruben said. “The opportunity to allow himself to be a better student, to be able to handle time and task management at an institute of higher learning. The Institute will help him to prioritize. As an athlete, it will give him the opportunity to take on any challenge that is put before him. He’s going to have to grind daily. There will be plenty of times when he will second-guess himself, but he’s going to have to develop some grit and he’ll be fine.”
Some of the things that will give Victor a head start is that he comes from a football family, his dad, Ruben, played college ball, his former head coach Jeff Lynn played at NMMI, and Roswell runs multiple offensive sets, so he should be at ease making line calls and recognizing different schemes.
“I’m excited for him,” coach Lynn said. “I played football at NMMI. NMMI is not one of those decisions you appreciate while you are there. Once you get done with it, you’re going to be really proud you went there. I’m really fired up for him, and I can’t wait to see what he does when he commits to football 100 percent.”
One of the things his father, Ruben, has been working with him on is the mental aspect of life and football. Ruben has been talking about developing the passion and desire to achieve and to want success. One of the things Ruben wants Victor thinking is, bigger, stronger, faster. Because when it comes to football at NMMI, he is going to run into athletes as big, as strong if not stronger.
“He is very coachable and an overall awesome kid,” NMMI coach Forchtner said. “He will do great things at NMMI.