Photo by Drew King
Ricky Rocha signs letter of intent, ready to wrestle for Schreiner
Ricky Rocha was a baseball player. A decent one, too.
He played it his first three years at San Marcos. But as he entered his senior year, he wanted to try something new.
A few of his friends were a part of the Rattlers’ wrestling team. Rocha thought he might try it, too.
“I gave it a shot and said, ‘Why not?’” Rocha said. “I regret not starting earlier because it was such an experience.”
Rocha proved to be a natural and knew he wanted to stick with the sport. After just one season of wrestling, he received an offer from the Schreiner Mountaineers and signed his letter of intent with the team on Wednesday.
“It’s so surreal,” Rocha said. “It didn’t hit me until I signed that paper. And it just means the world to me, especially with everyone supporting.”
His inaugural season wasn’t easy. Rocha little about wrestling. He was essentially on the same level as the incoming freshmen.
But head coach Garvin Smith knew he could grow into more.
“He’s clean-nosed, he’s always staying on task, doing what he needs to do. He works hard,” Smith said. “He’s always been athletic, so that adds to it. Add that with his knowledge and he’s now a wrestler.”
In one of Rocha’s first tournaments, the senior was pitted against a former state champion. The fight didn’t last long (“He whooped me. Real quick.”) but it showed Rocha how far wrestling could take him.
About halfway through the season, he was hooked. He wanted to be a wrestler.
“When Schreiner reached out to me, I thought, ‘Here’s my chance. Better not blow it,’” Rocha said. “I like how compact the campus is, I like the coach, the team. They’re all nice, they’re all cool. They were welcoming as soon as you go over there.”
Next year will be similar for Rocha. He’ll have to get acquainted with a new team. He’ll need to keep pushing himself to learn the sport and grow. And he’ll have to compete on another level.
Smith thinks he can pull it off.
“He’s gonna have to do a lot of developing,” Smith said. “And that’s expected because he’s still so fresh in the sport and college is a little bit different of a level. But I think he has what it takes to develop into a wrestler and compete at a college level. So, I’m hoping the best for him.”
And just like this year, Rocha is ready for the challenge.
“I want to show that I can make it. I want to show that one year is enough and I want to show that I can do what I haven’t done,” Rocha said. “I’ve got to work. Just day by day, get better. I’m not going to expect anything handed to me. And I know it’s going to be challenging, but I’m going to be ready for it.”