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Madrid dedicates the season to grandparents

Pictured are, front row, left to right: Esther Gibson, grandmother; Robert Madrid (signing); Elisianna Madrid, mother; Eric Madrid, father; and back row, left to right: Jason Madrid, brother; Alissa Madrid, sister; and RHS coach James Vernon. (J.T. Keith Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

How does a young athlete say goodbye to two of the most influential people in their life? Roswell’s All-District soccer player Robert Madrid lost his grandmother, Rosemary Quintana, and his grandfather, Robert Gibson, within nine months of each other. Robert died on the first day of summer conditioning on June 29, 2017.

“He passed away,” Madrid said, “two hours later I came to practice. I practiced with my team because my team had a lot of adversity, as well as me as an individual. I wanted to be here for my team despite my adversity. Every goal I scored this season I scored for him. When I scored I blew kisses to him in Heaven.”

Madrid was devastated by the deaths because his grandfather was his biggest fan and never missed a game. His grandfather helped raise him. Madrid felt as the leader of the team he had to show his team leadership and fight through his pain. His grandfather would have wanted him to play and do his best.

Couple that with the 13 seniors Roswell lost coming into this season, and many in the district felt this would be a rebuilding year for the Coyotes. Coming into this season the talk around the district was that Roswell wasn’t going to be as good as they usually are.

“Coming into my senior year,” Madrid said, “I wanted to prove everyone wrong. Teams in the district thought we lost everyone, but I wanted to prove to them that we were legit. Robert Rios and I were the only two players that had played varsity all four years. This style of play is a higher level at the varsity than it is at the junior varsity.”

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Madrid decided to dedicate his senior season to his grandfather. Madrid’s senior season was the best he’s had at Roswell. He leaves after leading his team to four district championships. He played varsity all four years at Roswell and was named District 4-5A Player of the Year and was MVP of the district as well. Madrid made all-state and scored 25 goals this year to go along with 12 assists. In their playoff game, the Coyotes lost to Los Alamos, 3-0.

“This season was amazing,” Madrid said. “This was my best season ever. It was different because I would score a goal and he wasn’t there. It was tough, but having the season I had I know I made him proud.”

Madrid signed a letter of intent to continue to play soccer at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs. The coach of Southwest had watched film of Madrid and contacted Roswell coach James Vernon. At the college level Madrid is expected to play forward. At Roswell he played multiple positions: center, midfield, outside midfield and forward his senior year.

“Robert is an intelligent player with the ability to finish in front of the goal,” University of the Southwest soccer coach Robert Ssejjemba said. “We are pleased to sign him and help him start his journey as a student-athlete.”

Madrid had the talent to be one of the best players on his team. It was during practice his freshman year when Coyotes’ coach Vernon told him he had the talent to be one of the best players on the team and could help the team, but would need to become a team player and pass the ball instead of being just a scorer. By becoming a team player and setting other players up, it would make his scoring opportunities easier.

“I told him,” Vernon said, “you think it’s going to be like this in college, but you’re wrong. I told him those people (coaches) will take your scholarship from you. Your attitude’s got to change. We had a lot of long talks about that. I just tried to make him a better team player. That was my ultimate goal for him.”

Vernon thinks that Madrid will need to work on his passing game, his left shot, the weight room and trusting other people. Vernon noted that Madrid’s game will really take off once he realizes that if he passes the ball and trusts his teammates, they will get the ball back to him. Madrid has the one thing coaches covet, and that is speed. Madrid is able to run by players in the open field.

“He’s very misleading,” Vernon said. “He has speed for days. He’s fast, a lot of people will look at him and think he’s nothing and Madrid will blow right by his opponents. He’s done a good job. I had him playing right midfield and we needed the speed up there and he produced. I know he can play at the next level without a doubt.”

Once he learned to get his teammates involved in scoring goals, things seemed to be going well for Madrid. In his junior season, Madrid tore some tendons in his foot, which limited his playing time and scoring. Madrid played half the season and scored four goals.

Every day Madrid is at Cielo Grande Recreation Area working on his game. One of the weak spots in his game that he is trying to work on is scoring with his left foot instead of kicking with his right foot. Madrid will play games at the park with anyone who wants to play.

“I’m working on shooting with both feet,” Madrid said. “In soccer that’s something that’s really big, to be able to score with either foot. I want to work on my left foot. I’m getting ready, I’m at the park every day playing against little kids just so I can get some reps in.”

Madrid wants to be a coach and come back to Roswell and take coach Vernon’s job as head coach. He will study business management at the University of the Southwest.

“It is always an important thing when you can have an athlete sign,” Vernon said. “That’s one of the pure joys of coaching. Winning a state championship is awesome, but every time I can get someone to go to college that’s what keeps us in it. As long as we can keep those kids active in soccer that’s the main thing, but the major thing is them getting an education. I want them to turn out to be good producers in the community and getting their job and career started. If we can boost that for them that’s what really matters.”

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