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Accomplishing one dream, hoping for the other

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Goddard senior Valaree Manzanares signed on Nov. 16 to play softball at Luna Community College in Las Vegas, NM. Manzanares will play first base and pitcher starting in the 2021-22 school year. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

It hasn’t gone the way she thought it would. No one could have foretold the future, least of all for senior Valaree Manzanares, who started as a pitcher for the Roswell softball team as a ninth-grader and transferred to Goddard during her sophomore year.

She felt a calling to go to Goddard. Her dad, Andrew (Drew) Manzanares played football at Goddard and graduated in 1997, and she wanted to continue the family tradition.

Valaree has felt at home ever since she arrived at Goddard, although transferring has come at a cost to her. She had to sit out her sophomore year because of transfer rules. She has yet to play a varsity game for the Lady Rockets, mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic during her junior year, and there may not be a season this year.

“It has been worth it,” Valaree said. “The change has been worth it. I love Goddard, it’s like I have been here at Goddard all four years. Everybody welcomed me with open arms when I came here. There’s been no hate since I got here.”

For Valaree, it seems it has been one thing after another. Her dream of wearing the Columbia blue and navy blue and white for the varsity might not happen. She has not played a varsity game in three years, and never for Goddard. The last time she saw varsity action was as a ninth-grader at Roswell.

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“It has been hard,” Valaree said. “My dad (Drew Manzanares) has told me to ‘stay ready,’ but it has been hard. Hopefully, I will get to play this year.”

Valaree Manzanares, sitting, signs to play softball at Luna Community College. Pictured from left are Andrea Manzanares, sister; Delma (Jeannie) Manzanares, mom; and Drew Manzanares, dad. (Submitted Photo)

Valaree sat in silence last season and watched her best friend, Jordan Rincon, not be able to play her senior year. It was emotional for both of them because of the closeness they shared.

“Watching Jordan (Rincon) go through what she went through broke me,” Valaree Manzanares said. “It was hard because I was working with her, and to watch Jordan miss out on her senior year really hurt. We didn’t get the opportunity to play together.”

Valaree was eating at Margarita’s Restaurant with one of her teammates back in March when she received a text and was told their season was canceled because of the coronavirus. At the time, Valaree didn’t know what the coronavirus was. Goddard was scheduled to play their first game at Clovis.

“My senior year has been very stressful,” Valaree said. “It has been full of ups and downs, starting with my junior year. I think we have grown as a team. My senior year is unknown because we don’t know what is going to go on. I have to keep my hopes up.”

Not only has she had to deal with hoping to play softball her senior season, but she has had to try and get a handle on remote learning. Valaree misses the classroom, her teachers and her friends. The way she learns best is through hands-on learning.

“I’m a hands-on learner,” Valaree said, “I have to learn right then and there. A teacher has to explain to me and teach me, so I know what I’m learning. Remote learning is very hard, but I’m making my way through it.”

Her personal goals this year are to go all out and leave her mark at Goddard. She wants to leave a good name for her little sister, Andrea Manzanares, who will be a junior next year.

Valaree’s talent has not stopped colleges from offering her a chance to play at the next level. She went to a showcase in November 2019. Luna’s assistant coach Tom Royder was watching her play. Her team Duke City Krush made it to the third-place game. The coach came up to her after the game and told her Luna was interested in her if she was interested in them. She visited the school in December and loved the small campus and what the school had to offer. Valaree verbally committed to Luna Community College and on Nov. 16, signed with them. She will play pitcher and first base there.

Valaree wants to be a teacher and coach when she is done playing softball.

“I’m excited to be going to college,” Valaree said. “This is something I have worked hard for since I was a little girl. Playing college softball and getting my degree is what I’m excited for. I had other offers, but Luna was my ultimate goal.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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