Marble Falls High School senior runner Sam Valdez sat at a table surrounded by four years of hard work and accomplishments, waiting for his name to be called to sign his National Letter of Intent. With family members in the double digits in attendance, Valdez couldn’t help but think of three people who were there in spirit — grandfathers Roy Atkinson and Gilbert Valdez and a great-grandmother.
“Their passing was the biggest push for me to do better,” he said.
Valdez is attending Concordia University to be a cross country and track runner.
“On the first day the Concordia coach saw Sam he said, ‘That kid can run,'” Marble Falls running coach Chris Schrader said. “I said, ‘Are you going to invest in him?’ That’s exactly what they did.”
The relationships with the coaches are why Valdez committed in March and signed with Concordia.
“We have a good bond,” he said. “I saw them at every single meet. I wanted to work for them and for the school.”
He’s looking at running in the eight-kilometer or about five-mile races for the cross country team. When track season starts, there’s talks of entering him in the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters or the 8,000 meters.
“I feel like they’ll put me in the 800,” Valdez said.
The son of Amy and Albert Valdez will major in kinesiology to be a coach.
He cherishes his time running for the Mustangs and is looking forward to competing on the next level.
“I made a lot of good friends, a lot of family members,” he said. “It’s been tough, but it’s helped me become a better runner. It’s been my passion. I get to compete for four more years.”
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