By Oscar Rubio
Special to RDR Sports
For my son, Fernando Rubio, it all started when the wrestling season ended for him. Fernando is a two-time state qualifier and national champion in the 170-pound weight class. He had begun track-and-field practice for shot put and discus throw and was ready to compete on Wednesday, March 4 in Carlsbad.
Sadly, he was notified by Goddard track coach Chris Deck, after we had come back from a football camp in Albuquerque the weekend prior. We thought the track meet would only be postponed until we realized the severity of it all when school ended, and we went into lockdown.
It was tough, especially knowing that Fernando was used to playing three sports year-round — football, wrestling and track and field — especially when he could not use the gyms to stay in shape. That’s when we realized for him to continue progressing and staying fit, (mind, body and spirit) during this pandemic, we had to go “old-school.”
I set up a workout where Fernando would flip tires, pull railroad ties, pull battleship anchor chains backward at NMMI outside the Godfrey Center. He would run 5 miles at 9,641 feet of high elevation in Alto, NM. Fernando would go to the Wool Bowl and push my Chevy Blazer from one end of the parking lot to the other as a leg workout twice a week.
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We were very blessed to have other parents with boys that shared the same drive and commitment to this workout plan — Larry Stone and Damian Cheatem. I cannot thank them enough for their help and support with this plan.
Before this pandemic started, our family had such busy schedules that it was rare for us to sit down together at the dinner table, and eat as a family. We found the silver lining and became closer as a family with more meals being shared and more communication with both of my sons (Fernando and Valentino).
Being essential workers, my wife, Theresa and I, were not at home all the time to notice Fernando’s demeanor change as he saw his former teammates about to graduate in May during this pandemic. Things were serious and not going away.
Fernando was heartbroken to see what those seniors had to experience, “the drive-thru” graduation without the traditional ceremony. He never lost sight or his determination to continue improving himself despite everything being closed.
Fernando’s attitude picked up when he realized the bigger picture ahead of him. He regrouped and continued to work hard and maximize his talents to hopefully earn a scholarship to further his education. Fernando felt like he still had opportunities because he had not played a down of football in his senior year.
Toward the end of June, Sally Marquez, the New Mexico Activities Association executive director, spoke about limited practice being held in July. Fernando was excited because it was time for pre-season football to begin. He knew something was better than a complete halt to sports altogether like it happened in March for the spring seasons of baseball, golf, softball and track and field. Fernando was concerned because there had been talk of fall sports being canceled.
In July, things seemed to be getting back to “normal,” but it was brought to a halt completely when all public-school activities and practices were stopped because of the rising COVID numbers. Teams were notified they had to stop practicing.
It was a devastating and crushing blow, and this time we noticed Fernando’s feelings and enthusiasm had hit rock bottom. As a concerned father, I sat down with him and we talked. Fernando asked me, “Why am I working so hard if we might not have a season and the lockdown will not end anytime soon?”
I simply replied, “You have to keep pushing even if you don’t know the outcome — because no one knows.”
I reached out to Ritchie Ramirez at Roswell Cross Fit, and he welcomed Fernando with open arms to train five days a week. Fernando enjoyed the workouts there from July to mid-August. Then practices resumed with small groups as Roswell Independent School District came out with a spring schedule.
Fernando was pumped knowing that even if it’s not in the fall, he would still be able to play football with the schedule being cut from nine games to seven games. Fernando being a senior, realizes that being a leader and being part of a brotherhood, the Lunas, Downs, Merinos, Burrells, Zaragozas (just to name a few) have all laid down a solid foundation for this 2021 class of football brothers. The aforementioned names are the older brothers who have played ahead of them in earlier classes of Goddard Rockets.
“I’d like to thank head coach White and staff for their support,” Oscar Rubio said. “Their guidance during the ups and downs of this crisis, and for keeping the kids’ morale high. We all know as sports parents, our kids need this now more than ever. I’d like to end this part of my journal on this note. Embrace your child while they are home from school. Don’t make them feel as if they are a burden. The house can be cleaned, food can be replaced, the bill can get paid. Don’t speak to them as if they are the reason life is a mess. It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair a broken adult. I believe we will play again in New Mexico.”
Oscar Rubio is the father of Goddard football player, wrestler and track athlete, Fernando Rubio. Oscar Rubio is taking readers on a look at COVID-19 from a parent’s perspective from the beginning of the pandemic all the way through to his son’s graduation in 2021.