"When I was a freshman, it was definitely a goal of mine to be an All-State player," recalled John Valdez recently. "Especially last year when I was going through that 'transition' period, it just motivated me to work last summer to get bigger, and just to get mentally tough and ready to play this season."
And after helping lead the Ignacio boys back to the Class 2A State Championships this past winter, the moment he'd hoped for as a ninth-grader is now upon him. Friday, June 8, the now-graduated Ignacio senior guard will suit up one last time as a prep-level athlete during the 62nd Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games held on and about the Adams State University campus in Alamosa.
As of Monday, June 4, Valdez was shown as being part of a squad coached by 3A Bayfield's Jeff Lehnus and Trent Phelps. But if that prospect wasn't interesting enough, his teammates will likely include BHS center Ryan Phelps and 3A Pagosa Springs forward Isaiah Griego, giving the team a true southwestern look and feel.
San Luis Valley standouts Carlos Parra (Del Norte, guard/forward) and Zach Sittler (Sanford, guard) will also provide some punch from the 2A Southern Peaks League, with Colorado Springs Mesa Ridge's Deven Nelson, Johnstown Roosevelt's T.J. Sterling and Westminster Mountain Range's Michael Polson doing so from the 4A C.S. Metro, 4A Tri-Valley and 5A Front Range Leagues, respectively.
Tentatively rounding out the roster will be 1A Cotopaxi's Kurt Voll and 1A Weston Primero's Vince Damelio.
"It's an amazing feeling," Valdez said, of his inclusion.
The Games' boys' basketball semifinals will be played at 4 and 5:30 p.m. on June 8 at Alamosa High School. The third-place game is set for 11 a.m. the next morning inside ASU's Plachy Hall. The first-place battle will then begin around 2 p.m.
All-State volleyball action will begin at 9:30 a.m. June 9 inside the ASU Fieldhouse adjacent to Plachy, with Ignacio setter Shoshone Thompson amongst those suiting up for coaches Gina Hollen (2A Dolores) and Candace Shaw (3A La Jara Centauri).
Thompson's teammates will include Taynin Abbott (3A Arvada Faith Christian), Emily Hanenberg (4A Pueblo West), Rachel Kusbel (4A Longmont), Allie Nidey (1A McClave), McKensie Penkoff (2A Westcliffe Custer County), Sydney Ritschard (2A Kremmling West Grand), Delaney St. Pierre (5A Colorado Springs Coronado), and Sarah Stevelinck (2A Lyons).
The third-place match will likely begin at noon, with the championship to follow at 1 p.m.
ADDITIONALLY: Representing 4A Durango, Ignacio resident Hilda Garcia will play in the CHSCA All-State Girls' Basketball games under coaches Nick Cornelison and Mikala Fletcher of 1A Walden North Park.