On the Field
Quarterback player senior Cheto Vasquez looks back on his football journey
What was once a passionate hobby has now become senior Cheto Vasquez’s world, playing quarterback for the varsity football team. Upholding his district title of Player of the Year and the 49ers Player of the Week in Sep. 2018 and Oct. 2017 respectively, Vasquez’s passion and dedication for the sport is unwavering.
His fondness for the game piqued when he began watching football games on TV in fourth grade, developing his interest in becoming a professional player. Joining the high school football team as a freshman, Vasquez worked his way through different games and coaches, building his confidence and skills.
“Freshman year was rough […] but that definitely taught us to be tougher and resilient,” Vasquez said. “I had a new coach every year, so just being adaptable was really important for me.”
Varsity football coach Ceazar Agront notes the importance of keeping a healthy mindset when playing any sport. While Vasquez and Agront both agree that football is a sport of physical exertion, they recognize the mental aspect of individual athletes and its necessity to having a positive outcome.
“I think physicality is one thing, but getting into your opponent’s mind and staying focused and competitive is really important,” Vasquez said. “I think [in] football, you need to be ready because you can get hurt or something bad could happen [but] mindset wise, you have to have a strong will because it’s not always easy when you’re getting tired.”
Agront emphasizes the need for a positive mindset, something he finds that can directly impact any athlete’s play regardless of skill.
“Football’s a unique sport because you have to go out there, especially on the quarterback position, that’s supposed to be the leader,” Agront said. “So going into this, I knew that we were going to have to make sure that his mental fortitude was strong, like he was going to have to be able to grind to that pressure. Whether you win or you lose or you’re tired, you still remain the beacon for your team.
Junior Tarun Sarang, who is a receiver and cornerback player, agrees with Agront, and also believes that the drive for competition can be useful when keeping the team alert at all times.
“On the field, he has a commanding presence, he’s like a captain,” Sarang said. “He really cares about the team in an unspoken way and not just on the field, but [he’s] also a really good friend of mine. I think he has good relationships with everyone on the team. He’s just a good person overall.”
Similarly, Agront finds that a lot of his persona can be attributed to the support he has from his teammates. For him, it wasn’t a surprise when Vasquez was given both the titles of Player of the Year and 49ers Player of the Week.
“Telling his players to be in certain positions or conveying to the coaches what he was seeing on the field, I was like, ‘Okay, this is going to be a special year for him,’ and it was, statistically,” Agront said. “He had one of the best [plays] our quarterbacks ever had. It was like a no-brainer, you know, Player of the Year. That represents more than just the playing side – it was the leadership part and just who he is as a player and a person.”
It’s with the positivity and support from his teammates that Vasquez finds his playing directly translates from his mindset, leading him to retain a calm, yet companding presence.
“I think it’s really nice because I have all my friends, my coaches, my parents that all really support me in the sport in doing what I love,” Vasquez said. “I think they’re proud and happy of what I’ve accomplished and I think that feeling is really nice to be able to have support at doing something you like to do.”
Agront emphasizes how modeling a positive mindset can have a lasting effect on the team by creating a culture that keeps a healthy attitude when playing the sport, something he sees Vasquez doing on a regular basis.
“Controlling the mindset was huge,” Agront said. “In a nutshell: it creates a winning culture. It creates a culture where you’re going to compete. If you compete, you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some, but overall, I think that was the biggest thing.”
Vasquez says the titles he’s earned are based on a collaborative effort.
“I was surprised and shocked because it’s not just me, it was my teammates who help me get [the ball] because I’m just the guy running it,” Vasquez said. “It’s my teammates that help me, the glue action, they are the ones that block, they are the ones that catch the ball and everything and I think for me, personally, I felt good about it because I’m representing Monta Vista as a school.”