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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Galeana Quit Sports at Littlerock to Support His Family When Dad Was Hurt

September 20, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER

College football coaches use many factors in determining whether to recruit a high school athlete.

Size, speed, grades, work ethic--they're the usual indicators of success.

In the case of senior receiver Jose Galeana of Littlerock High, college coaches need to know only one thing: He has the fortitude of a Purple Heart recipient.

Galeana entered the 1999 season as a three-sport athlete with sprinter-like speed, good grades and dedication to his teammates.

In the middle of preseason football practice, he disappeared.

Galeana's father injured his back and couldn't work. A family of five boys and two girls ranging in age from 1 to 16 turned to the eldest sibling.

"I had to stop playing sports--too many mouths to feed," Galeana said.

For six months, until his father regained his health, Galeana worked as a manual laborer in industrial heating, earning the minimum wage of $5.75 an hour.

He was so dirty and tired coming home, "I didn't even want to go to school the next day," he said.

But he continued going to class to keep his college dreams alive. When he saw football or basketball players walking around campus and heard them talking about their seasons, he couldn't hide his disappointment, knowing he would have been one of the top players.

"I just had to do what I had to do," he said. "I really didn't have a choice, even though [my parents] gave me one. I just felt we needed the money or we wouldn't be eating well."

Coach Jim Bauer of Littlerock doesn't take kindly to players quitting his team. But he was in awe when he heard Galeana's story.

"Us coaches are kind of jerks," Bauer said. "We demand a lot of time and commitment. [Galeana] said, 'Coach, this is what happened and this is what I have to do.' I went, 'Whoa.'

"I think the world of the kid. What a mature thing to do. He put his priorities straight. He had school, his family and sports. He took care of family and school. I'm very proud of him.

"There was absolutely no solution other than for Jose to do exactly what he did. He's a great citizen."

Galeana returned to sports last spring when he joined the track team, but he was out of shape and injured. He fell short of his swift sophomore times of 21.3 for 200 meters and 48.0 in the 400.

But after a summer of hard work with the football team, Galeana is in shape, running fast and hoping to display his immense athletic skills.

He's 6 feet, 175 pounds, has a 3.2 grade-point average and wants to play college football. He understands missing his entire junior season has left him at a disadvantage.

"I'm like a hidden athlete," he said. "Nobody really knows me. I haven't been able to show anybody what I can do. This is my last year. This is my last opportunity. I have to go all out."

Galeana's brothers and sisters are probably too young to realize the sacrifice their big brother made by giving up sports for almost a year. But his parents, Max and Leticia, are grateful, and some college coach is going to take notice.

It's not every day someone has the chance to recruit an 18-year-old who possesses the rare combination of athletic talent and maturity.

"I think this is just preparation for life," Galeana said. "When I have a similar situation, I won't worry as much. I did what I had to do."

Galeana's work experience taught him another lesson. He wants to work with computers--not furnaces.

"I want to be a lawyer," he said. "I want to be behind a desk, do nothing but read papers, type on a computer all day and get paid $20 an hour."

*

After defeating Paraclete, 51-0, and Crespi, 64-22, St. Bonaventure's football team appears headed for a 14-0 season.

Of course, the Seraphs' domination in Southern Section Division XI will cause some people to suggest Coach Jon Mack should play a tougher nonleague schedule.

Jeff Kraemer, an assistant coach at Notre Dame High and Mack's close friend, said, "We'd smash him like a cockroach."

If that isn't a challenge for a Notre Dame-St. Bonaventure game, what is? Mack is playing Notre Dame this week--Notre Dame of Riverside.

"We'll play anybody anywhere," Mack said. . . .

Joseph Pawlick, the former athletic director at Westlake who angered his share of students, parents, coaches and media members, is in the spotlight again, this time as principal at Salinas High.

Last week, 20 Salinas students picketed the school to protest the dress code, with girls complaining about an unannounced ban on thong underwear while telling people to "look at our brains, not our panties."

The Salinas Californian reported that Pawlick "did not return repeated phone calls" seeking comment.

Well, nothing has changed in the way Pawlick deals with the media. . . .

Bill Scott, a former Alemany outfielder, is expected to decide this week whether to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers or return for his senior year at UCLA. Scott did not learn until July that he played most of last season with a broken wrist.

Scott was drafted in the eighth round and has been waiting patiently for his wrist to heal.

"It's been a rough summer," Scott said. . . .

Athletic Director Fluke Fluker of Chatsworth recently returned from a seven-day cruise to Aruba, where he served as the boat's security director.

Fluker had time to eat six lobsters at one meal and finish his wife's prime rib dinner too.

"The chef had to come out and make sure the waiter wasn't pocketing the food because I was eating so much," Fluker said.

*

Eric Sondheimer's local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422 or eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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