The Best of Both Worlds

Josh Godinez, Reporter

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Juan Gonzalez (12), better known as Papito, is going for his fourth consecutive year on varsity for golf and basketball. He is regarded by many as one of the best athletes in the Rio Grande Valley for both sports respectively. These sports have long been a part of his life, first playing golf at just six years old, and basketball at eight.

“Ever since I was little, I was surrounded by sports,” said Papito. “I played baseball, football, soccer-everything. But when I came to high school I picked two sports.”

Picking only two sports for his high school career has given Papito the opportunity to focus his talents. That focus is definitely something that has helped him achieve such superiority and success on the court and on the green.

“Papito has a mental game that will get him to the next level,” said head golf coach Celso Gonzales. “There’s a saying, ‘as much as you put into golf, is as much as you get out of golf.’ Papito has put in countless extra hours, and has shown a lot of dedication to golf and that is what makes him successful.”

The same work ethic can be said for basketball as well. He works everyday at his game, usually spending at least an hour a day for basketball, plus two for golf, but sometimes even more.

Despite being outstanding at the two, Papito does naturally lean a bit more towards basketball.

“I like basketball better because you can trash-talk. You can’t trash-talk in golf,” said Papito, who admitted to being a trash-talker on the court.

While he does maintain a favoritism towards basketball, his future certainly lies in golf. He says that he will most likely play at either Baylor University or the University of Houston, but that he has not officially committed to either one.

When he isn’t dribbling a basketball or swinging a club, Papito collects shoes and enjoys hanging out with friends, but most of the time he is working on his skills.

“I’m working really hard for this last year,” said Papito, aware of the high standard of play he has set for himself in both sports. “I’m looking for a strong finish.”

This is probably the same finish that Gonzales is looking for in Papito as well.

“In my 23 years of coaching, I have seen some good golfers, and he’s definitely in the top three,” said Gonzales. “I knew Papito when he was small, and I knew he was a good golfer even in the middle school years. He went to state his sophomore year. It’s his senior year now, and we have high expectations for him, and he has to have high expectations as well.”

You can definitely infer that Papito’s role model, his now deceased Uncle “Poppy” Horacio, would have been proud. Horacio played football for Virginia Tech University.

“[Horacio] was a big impact on my life,” said Papito proudly. “He always motivated me.”

Along with his uncle, Papito also attributes some of his success to the Hoopsters, a traveling basketball team he plays for. He says that the Hoopsters and their coach have helped him become the player he is today, and a great player at that.

“Every game I still get anxious, but it takes just a minute to get into my flow,” said Papito, showing he is still human. “Even for golf, I still get nervous, all until that first shot.”

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